Portland mayor proposes ban on unsanctioned homeless encampments, calls crisis a 'humanitarian catastrophe'
Portland's homeless crisis 'a vortex of misery for all involved,' Mayor Ted Wheeler said
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced a plan this week to ban unsanctioned homeless encampments and build 20,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade.
"The magnitude and the depth of the homelessness crisis in our city is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe," Wheeler said on Friday, noting that many homeless people in Portland are dealing with untreated mental health issues and drug addiction.
"Collectively, this is a vortex of misery for all involved."
Portland's homeless population has shot up 50% from 2,037 people in 2019 to more than 3,000 homeless people this year, resulting in more than 700 encampments spread out over 146 square miles.
Under the proposal, outreach workers would direct homeless people to "designated alternative camping sites with services" such as drug abuse and mental health counseling.
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Increasing the supply of affordable housing is the "foundational solution" to the city's homeless crisis, Wheeler said, announcing a plan to build 20,000 units over the next decade.
Wheeler also called for the next Oregon governor to implement an "immediate enactment of a statewide emergency order" on the homeless crisis, which has been an animating issue in the tight gubernatorial race between Republican Christine Drazan, Democrat Tina Kotek and unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson.
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Drazan, who is trying to end four decades of Democratic leadership in Oregon, has said she would declare a state of emergency if elected.
"We have among the highest numbers for homelessness and addiction with the lowest level of access to recovery services," she told Fox News Digital earlier this year.