From Jim Middaugh, May 2008

Ending Chronic Homelessness – campaign position statement

We are in our fourth year of the 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, and we’ve made a lot of strides. Ending homelessness doesn’t mean that we can end every individual or household crisis that may spiral people onto the streets. But we can end the notion that homelessness is inevitable in this city and that seeing people living on the streets is acceptable.

I am proud that during my 15 months in City Hall, I successfully negotiated substantial increases in the amount of money being allocated to ending chronic homelessness. Numerous homeless activists are supporting my campaign. We have a lot of work yet to do, and here’s where we’ll start:

* Continuing work on the 10 Year Plan. Two very extensive street counts have documented that homelessness in Portland decreased by 39 percent between January 2005 and January 2007. If we keep moving people directly into housing, building supportive housing for chronically homeless adults, and working with Multnomah County to provide services with housing, I’m confident that we can end chronic homelessness by 2015. Maintaining our momentum will require activism, guts, leadership and passion. I will not compromise my commitment to our City’s most vulnerable people.

* Expanding access to services. We need to focus on making sure people who have moved off the streets have access to job training and employment. The full-service Day Access Center will help address that, but we must fight to make sure the center and its services are adequately funded.

* Providing rent assistance to families who need it. Thousands of Portlanders experience homelessness for several weeks or months each year—and nearly half people are families with children. That is unacceptable in our great city. Through the Schools, Families, Housing Initiative, we have given rent assistance to families with school-aged children through the county’s Touchstone Program. By helping families and individuals through occasional rough patches, we can keep provide the buffer needed to keep them off the streets.

* Treating everyone fairly and humanely. I cannot support any law that targets vulnerable populations. There should be no compromise at all on protecting the civil rights of all residents of Portland. Period. If we have laws that are selectively enforced against homeless people, I will fight to expose the selective enforcement and stop it.

* Giving police the resources they need. I opposed the Drug-Free Zones because of their clear constitutional problems and the racial disparities in their enforcement. I applaud Mayor Potter’s decision to discontinue them. That said, I think police need to be able to effectively deal with the small handful of people who are dangerous. I will support policies that provide the police with discretion to deal with bad actors as long as that discretion comes with accountability. I also support more funding for additional police and will make that funding a priority.

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