I have lived in downtown Portland for over 10 years, and I am a compassionate, caring person. During that time, the homeless population grew from a couple of people sitting on the bench outside Gorham Savings to a daily expanding tent city that has reached alarming proportions under the Route 77 overpass.

I am outraged and frightened. I visited my daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area and watched its rapid decline to wall-to-wall tent cities under every overpass, needles and bloody pads scattered about on sidewalks, and people shooting up on the streets regularly during the day.

When I moved to Portland, I thought I had chosen a friendly city that had vision and growth potential. I’m finding it’s a city that cannot seem to make necessary and hard choices about what to do about the homeless population. We cannot enable the current situation and cannot afford to become a lawless society. We need a legally enforceable set of rules in place before we become another San Francisco.

When is Portland’s elected leadership going to come up with practical, tough solutions that won’t force the rest of us out of the city? I’m living in a building that was supposed to be the “gateway to Portland,” but to arrive home, I need to drive through a filthy, sprawling mess of tents with garbage and stolen bicycles strewn about and dirty laundry hanging off trees. I’m horrified, sad and wondering how long it will take to fix this, because my patience is exhausted.

Susanne Newman

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