Friday, February 02, 2007

This week in Street Roots

It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the homeless front. The mayor pulled the sit/lie ordinance off the table until park-benches, restrooms and a day access center are in place. While everyone and their brother continues to tell Street Roots that a sidewalk law banning people from sitting or lying on a sidewalk is a fair trade for direct services, we don’t buy it. It’s wrong, and we believe it eventually will be ruled unconstitutional.

The organization’s Act Now section has received great responses from readers. This week’s Act Now section includes a call for legislators in Salem to vote down a ban on creating a real estate transfer fee. A transfer fee in Portland and around the state would lead to millions of dollars of affordable housing for Oregonians. Oregon is one of only 13 states in the nation that don’t have a revenue stream through the one-time fee on sales transactions — we should change that. The source of money allocated for affordable housing through the real estate fee would go a long way to help our neighbors, friends and family to secure an affordable roof over their heads. That’s something we should all get behind. Portland’s real estate market is hopping, and it wouldn’t hurt for those who are benefiting to share in the spoils of becoming a modern 21st century city.

Street Roots vendors in the Pearl have been feeling the love. Sales are up in a neighborhood that five years ago use to host large numbers of homeless people sleeping in random doorways. You won’t find a homeless person sleeping out in the Pearl these days, but you will find several Street Roots vendors. Thanks to everyone who lives in the Pearl — in a strange kind of way.

It won’t be long before Old Town/Chinatown where Street Roots resides experiences the boom the Pearl is experiencing. In five years, will homeless people still be allowed to sleep out in doorways of businesses that allow them? I doubt it. Some argue that with the abundance of services in the neighborhood that people of all classes will always be welcome. Can a neighborhood like the Pearl and homeless services co-exist? That's the million dollar question, and you can bet someone will have the money to answer it.

This week in Street Roots: "Why is Mike Kuykendall on the cover of Street Roots." The Portland Business Alliance VP defends the organizations reputation when it comes to the streets. Other tid-bits from the issue include Mardi Gras: Made in China, a film about young women who make the very beads women in the US show their boobs for - as both world's are introduce to the other. Columnists this issue include Paul Boden from the Western Regional Advocacy Project in San Fran, Jay Thiemeyer, and Ruth Kovacs.

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