The organization appears to be focused primarily on the impact of homelessness.
Social media is full of ads for a new non-profit social welfare organization called "People for Portland". According to its website, the organization, which seemed to appear out of nowhere this past August, has a broad mission.
People for Portland is a 501(c)(4) non-profit social welfare organization. Our mission is to provide a platform and voice for Portlanders to take grassroots action to advance our shared community values. Our goal is greater urgency and bolder action from our elected leaders to solve the biggest problems facing our city: ending unsheltered homelessness, safe streets and neighborhoods, accountability and justice for everyone, and cleanliness, pride, and economic vitality in the city we love."
A review of materials offered by the group shows a focus that is clearly on issues that Portland residents are increasingly concerned about, most notably homelessness and public safety. People for Portland appears to be developing a wide base of support around the city and is attracting high-profile supporters like former state senator Avel Gordly.
People for Portland is advocating with local politicians for changes they believe are necessary for the livability of the city and they are tackling the issues of homelessness and violence head-on. For example, on October 11th they sent a letter to the mayor and city council advocating for increased police staffing.
The organization is also asking citizens to get involved and let politicians know that they want changes around homelessness and public safety. People for Portland states that over 100,000 letters have been sent to local politicians thanks to their campaign.
As the say goes, if you want to find the truth, you need to follow the money. Although much of the funding for People for Portland is anonymous, an article by the Willamette Week newspaper looked at private donor presentations and other documents they obtained to learn more about People for Portland and what they're planning.
The article contends that People for Portland is gearing up for political and potential legal action to get faster results from city and county leadership on livability issues. Ballot measures are also under consideration, although the organization appears to hope that their efforts to push city, county, and Metro politicians into quicker action will be most effective.
Key approaches that are being considered by People for Portland include instituting "shelter enforcement", i.e. forcing street camping homeless to go to shelters, safety rest villages, and other designated locations; requiring body cameras for police; redirecting housing bond dollars to focus more on shelters versus long-term housing; and investigating potential legal action "to try to force elected officials to do their jobs"
Many advocates for people experiencing homelessness fear that People for Portland is more concerned about "warehousing" the homeless and hiding away the problem of unsheltered people on the streets of the city. They also contend that People for Portland's call for "urgency" doesn't recognize the accomplishments of the last few years including the placement of 2,500 people into permanent housing, and the creation of an additional 900 shelter beds.
As frustration with the homeless crisis continues to grow, People for Portland will likely continue to attract support from people around the county who are not seeing the visible results of major investments in homeless services. Many Portland residents believe that increased crime in the city is at least partly tied to increased numbers of homeless campers.
According to polling that was done by People for Portland, the city appears to be reaching a tipping point as residents increasingly feel unsafe in their city and grapple with camping, panhandling, excessive trash, and increased theft.
"Had enough of the record shootings and murders in Portland? Make your voice heard. Portlanders want City Hall to invest in and reform public safety to address the rising violence in every neighborhood in the city." -- People for Portland webpage
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