City of Portland Shelter Moratorium
Through These Doors, Cumberland County’s domestic violence resource center reviewed the City of Portland’s “Order Establishing a 180-day Moratorium for Emergency Shelters in the Bayside Neighborhood” with disappointment and indignation.
The Moratorium States:
“The City of Portland’s homeless population has higher rates than the general public of individuals with lower socioeconomic status, racial minorities, those who suffer from substance use, and other mental health disorders, leading to disproportionately higher calls for police and EMS in the Bayside neighborhood.”
We feel offended by the underlying premise that ‘concentrating’ people with lower socioeconomic status, racial minorities, and others mentioned in the Moratorium is a problem. One does not hear that “concentrating” white or wealthy people is a problem. In fact, “concentrating” is not used when referencing these more privileged groups. One only hears it used with groups of people living on the margins.
The Moratorium Goes on to State:
“We must protect the neighborhood from a concentration of emergency shelters. We should avoid “harm” caused by shelters.”
As if shelters create the problem of homelessness rather than addressing it. Do we imagine that without shelters providing services and support, people with nowhere to live would disappear from our streets? The Moratorium highlights the ugly reality of judging and excluding people based on class, color, ability, and other characteristics deemed unworthy, at least counted and kept to a minimum.