Voices from the Edge on 07/12/12
Redefining our relationship with the homeless
Last year, Portland City Council approved a pilot "overnight sleeping" program that would permit churches and other non-profits to make their parking lots available to people currently living in their cars. The measure, loosed based on a similar program in Eugene, was intended to offer refuge for those on the brink while more permanent support was found. When Sellwood's Moreland Presbyterian Church announced earlier this spring their intent to be the first church to carry out the program - in their case for a single woman living in her car - a vocal minority raised a sufficient ruckus that the church delayed implementation of its plan. Now a second church, northeast Portland's Westminster Presbyterian Church has announced their desire to participate in the program.
Why does such a limited presence of those without homes in Portland neighborhoods provoke such strong reactions? How do we change Portlanders' ideas about who the homeless? Can we move beyond current policies of concentrating the homeless in certain areas of the city to integrating them into neighborhoods with which they often have deep connections? Joining us in this conversation is David Groff, a member of Westminster Presbyterian who is one of the leads in conversations with the city about implementation of the plan. Groff is also chair of the board of Operation Nightwatch, a volunteer program offering evening hospitality services to the homeless and residents of single room occupancy facilities.
Jo Ann Hardesty is a former state legislator, former director of Oregon Action and past board president of Portland Community Media, as well as a long-time leader in the struggle for racial and economic justice. Dave Mazza is a journalist and former editor of The Portland Alliance who has covered and been involved in Portland's civil rights, environmental, labor and peace movements for over 20 years.
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Co-Hosts: Jo Ann Hardesty and Dave Mazza
Producers: Dave Mazza and Jo Ann Hardesty
Program Engineer: Steve Nassar
Audio Editor: Alicia Olson