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They Live Under The Stars

Homelessness is on the increase in the local community.

Homelessness is on the increase in the local community.

Homelessness is on the increase in the local community.

Kerryann Heyberger, Staff Reporter

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Within the local area many folks are celebrating the holidays. While some passed the traditional bounty around the table some people are searching for a warm place to stay as the nights grow colder. Of the many issues in the Portland-Metro area those without a home to go to are growing. Estimates indicate up to 10% of the population of Portland find themselves seeking shelter as the number of homeless grow. Of those who are living without housing, 51% of them are living in shelters. This is especially important during the holiday season where the other 49% of unsheltered people will need to find food. The people who make up the homeless population easily include veterans, children kicked out of homes, and disabled individuals — all of whom are dealing with mental illness, emotional instability, or physical disabilities. Portland’s homeless population will need food and shelter for the holidays during the expected inclement weather.

Among the many who seek to fix the homeless crisis, Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler acknowledges, “The challenges around homelessness are serious and varied,” and investing money into the Joint Office of Homeless Services along with county resources has decreased the amount of homelessness on the streets. Although it is a work in progress, it seems as if it is not developing quickly enough. Numerous people vagabond-bound are depending on the kindness of people inside Portland’s community to graciously make donations as they pass by in their vehicles.

Many panhandlers seek money for drugs or other substances but there are also panhandlers seeking food and other resources to survive on the streets. Multiple individuals roaming the streets are always in need of something; whether it be shelter, blankets, clothing or food. For the panhandlers who seek funds to fulfill their dependant drug addictions, people driving by may be hesitant to hand out cash; people want to help the homeless by donating money but some of the homeless abuse that method. Then there are those homeless who own dogs, while caged animals and cats are given away, sold, or become stray. Donations for dog food are not common and people rarely think of donating necessities for their beloved domesticated companions. 

For people who had been homeless before and are now in a stable home live may be better but they remember the difficulties associated with being homeless.  A former student at Rex Putnam High School has been homeless in previous years. She claims that it was a very rough time; it was hard to cope with and her family was temporarily “couch-surfing”. While this had been experienced in her young childhood, she still remembers how difficult it was for the whole family. With the help of her extended family and grandparents, she was able to move into a house that would keep her from jumping to numerous apartments around Oregon. The holidays were a time where food was scarce and it was very different from other families compared to hers.

From the student’s eventful past, being homeless is a difficult time during the holidays. People who are homeless face numerous challenges, including finding food and skipping the festive celebrations to survive on the streets. Food banks and shelters are great sources to donate to and help the local community. Homelessness in Portland, and in our own backyard,  is something that cannot be quickly resolved.  Fortunately, donations to local shelters and food banks do help.

Editor’s note:  High school students in North Clackamas are currently gathering food during the annual Winter Rage event.  Donations are being solicited for local families.  Contact NCSD for more information.

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They Live Under The Stars