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Thursday, November 20, 2014

TENT CITY FOR SALE



On a corner lot in a major downtown area, you will find a fenced-in area that is presently home to the many homeless in Portland, Oregon. I found this spot in my wandering of Portland recently. The homeless tenants appear to be well organized with tents erected in the interior of the lot with homemade fencing surrounding it. On a portion of the homemade fencing one can find the sign above, "For Sale." This corner lot is rented by a homeless organization in Portland however its future is not secure. If the lot is sold they are to move from here. If they cannot find enough money to rent the lot in the future -- they are out of here for sure.




This photo shows the entrance to the tented area. Portable johns and water are provided to the tenants. Large tents with cots are lined up inside this fenced area. I did not go inside as I felt that would put me in the position of a voyeur.




Along the one side of the lot is this rather unique folding fence that provides privacy to those within. It is built with old doors donated from a demolition company. Community folks have painted the doors with various words of hopes and dreams. 



Here are some examples of the community art work painted on the doors.



More doors . . . .


And more . . . .




I thought the above door represented a far fetched dream -- social justice seems to be rather rare in this country lately -- those with the most money in this country appear to have turned their backs on the less fortunate as they buy their jets and build their huge mega homes. Also, our politicians and justice systems are rather twisted.

For an excellent accounting of the number of homeless types and conditions in the U.S. put out by the National Coalition for the Homeless click here

28 comments:

  1. A heartbreaking post. What will happen when the heart are torn out and the doors are thrown down - another giant shopping mall?

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    1. visualnorway -- I'm afraid that your words might be what will happen' In my wildest dreams we would build hostels for these folks that are down on their luck -- get them back on their feet if they choose too. thanks -- barbara

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  2. Jesus. Welcome to the Third World. Whatever happened to the shelter on Glisan where I taught English for a while? Is it still there?

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    1. Hattie -- I am not familiar with the Gilsan shelter in Portland. You taught English at the shelter? I'm sure you could write a book about that experience, -- barbara.

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  3. Oh I guess the shelter was Blanchett House,which is still there. I didn't remember the name.

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    1. Hattie -- How long ago where you involved with this shelter? I would think the homeless problem has increased since you taught. Numbers of homeless are difficult to track according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. thanks -- barbara

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  4. Your photos reminded me of the ones taken during the Depression. So sad to see this kind of poverty.

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    1. Florence -- History repeats itself when we face the homeless problem. What can we do to help these folks? -- barbara

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  5. I like it that you shared this story, and the photos (would have liked to see the fence in color however). And I agree with your opinions. There's a big gap between what people say (or do) in church especially about "charity begins at home," and the lives we lead (I'm part of it.) I'll post my opportunities on my blog.

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    1. Barbara -- I wish I knew the answer to this ongoing problem. It does seem to me that the rich are hoarding millions and billions for themselves and friends when they could release lots of that money to organizations that help the needy like the homeless. thanks -- barbara

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  6. Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, but is that Michael Jackson? The doors of hope are interesting. I wish such an encampment were not necessary.

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    1. Joanne -- I couldn't make out that bottom face but the others you named are right on. I've read stats that say that on any given night in the U.S. that 610,042 experience homelessness. And this figure is probably low because of the difficulty in counting them all. By the way, Gandi is one of my heros. thanks -- barbara

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  7. This post evokes so many feelings. Hope, sadness, despair, and a bit of anger that these type of places are necessary in our country. You did an exceptional job of photographing the site and the black and white images only add to the feeling.

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    1. Michelle -- I appreciate your nice comments. All the feelings you describe are felt by many folks but it seems to take money to change all this.The homeless woman that I talked with that day said if these homeless people just had a place to shower and wash their clothes -- this would contribute to their dignity which is in short supply with them. -- barbara

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  8. My first cousin could very well be living there. You know Barbara you're talking about the new Mercun way of treating our citizens and it's not even a stretch to get there.

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    1. One Fly -- many families seem to have loved ones that have wandered off into homelessness.. Homelessness affects not only the person but their families as well, It appears that the numbers go up and down as the economy goes up and down. I am not familiar with the new Mercun way -- I looked it up and is all I could find was the word firecracker? Would like to know more about it. -- barbara

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    2. I apologize Barbara. It's just a smart a.. comment meant to mean American as in guvmint as well for government.

      The meaning of my comment was that our society is becoming much less tolerant of those in need and those in power help less and less. We are both pretty much on the same page. You are a great blogger btw.

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    3. One Fly -- thanks for the kind remark. Our government seems to look the other way when it comes to helping our low income families. If it wasn't for charities I wonder if the government would step in to help? I agree, we are on the same page.

      My first face-to-face reality with homelessness was after I retired, I worked part-time as a urban school substitute. I would find children that were stealing treats from others because they didn't have food in the place they were temporarily living in. It was there breakfast. Also, one mother came to school around ten a.m. everyday to feed her two children donuts from the place where she worked. The donuts were left-overs from the day before so the mother was able to get them free. This was the family's healthy breakfast! They would sit outside at recess eating them as they were ashamed to have other kids seeing their plight. Other similar incidents occurred on a weekly basis with various children. Homelessness hits families hard.

      Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  9. It looks like Portland has more concern for the homeless than many cities, although this is probably only a portion of their homeless population. Your photos of their art and graffiti vividly illustrate that just because people are destitute doesn't mean they lack heart and dreams and talent. If the nation spent a small percent of the amount given to political campaigns for affordable housing and job creation so many people could be helped. Thanks for the vivid illustration of how Portland is trying to help the homeless -- and for emphasizing that even this is in peril, depending entirely on economics.

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    1. June -- I feel that Portland has a need for lots of improvement in treating their homeless.. There is a street newspaper ($1.00) that can be bought at different locations around town. It's called Roots and is quite an impressive read. I usually buy an issue when I see a homeless person selling them. I understand that the paper is sold in many cities. I agree that if a small percent of the top one percent could just reach out to these folks we might see a reduction in seeing folks sleeping curbside and in doorways. The folks in the tent city on my post are the lucky ones as they are safer inside that enclosure at night than out on the street sleeping. thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  10. It's a very strange and corrupt world we live in. I don't understand the need to have more and bigger and better. Or to run the constant rat race to get there. Our government does not spend tax dollars wisely. Nor does it create community. I love those doors used as fencing and the artwork on them. I sure hope those folks aren't thrown to the curb anytime soon. Why is it we can't build small, affordable housing and shelters? We can afford to go into other countries for war but can't afford to take care of our own people at home? So many things I just don't get. Best wishes, Tammy

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    1. Tammy -- I agree with what you are saying. We pay federal taxes that are doled out to corporations to control the media and fight wars so ultimately the benefactors are the corporations. The corporate/government buy all types of very expensive military equipment for not only the U.S. but whoever is on what they feel is the right side. Then when the battle is fought, and after it is over, they leave much of the war equipment on the ground for the opposing sides to collect and start a battle against whoever they please.. It is a circular system leaving out, it seems, U. S. communities and individuals. thanks -- barbara

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  11. Hi Barbara, I replied to your comment before I realized you are a no-reply comment blogger,so am copying my response here:

    Bulbuls are very popular in Iran. They have a beautiful birdsong and for some reason humans would rather cage birds than listen to and watch them in the wild. Our neighbors have some in very small cages that they put out on their balcony every day and the little bulbuls look so very sad. I am sure they are thinking,how come all those other birds are free and I can't spread my wings and fly.

    Best wishes,
    Tammy

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    1. Tammy -- Oh sorry for the mix-up. My blogs are open to replies no matter how many. Perhaps there was a bit of confusion on how google sets it up. After my reply back to you you will see the word delete at the bottom. Ignore that and look under the white line that is beneath delete. There you will find the word reply -- click on it and one can reply.

      How sad it must be for you to see such beautiful birds, as you describe, caged and unable to enjoy the freedom they deserve. -- thanks barbara

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  12. Who provides the accommodations, I wonder...And who will help the folks to transition? Is it not too cold there in winter? I love the community art, of course. The need of art for the soul along with the basic physical needs. Home, it is one of the things I am grateful for each & every every day...As always, I appreciate your observations & soulful documentation of community life wherever you are...

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  13. Rita -- Apparently there is a homeless organization that has been paying the owner of the property to rent the corner lot. I can't vouch for this but this was the impression I got from the activist women who I talked to the day I took the photos. She did say if they can't come up with the rent money in the months ahead they would lose this spot to stay in and be out in the cold again. It can get down in the 40's at night here during the rainy season which is Nov to Apr. Having a home is wonderful -- be it cabin, trailer, tent, or whatever if you are on a piece of land where no one can ask you to leave. Thanks for the very thoughtful comment -- barbara

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  14. I've been away from visiting your blog for far too long... this is a great post!

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    1. Teresa -- nice to hear from you! thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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