Anyone who has driven into Portland recently must be dismayed by the proliferation of homeless encampments. Eventually, Portland and Multnomah County will have to deal with this situation.
Recently, the city and county of Los Angeles were ordered by a federal judge to find shelter within 180 days for all the homeless people who are currently occupying dangerous locations near bridges and highways.
Were Portland to come under a similar judicial order, it is very likely that some fraction of the homeless in Portland would migrate to Astoria or other locations in Clatsop County. If that were to happen, we would not be able to handle the consequences.
Over the past several years, the mayor of Astoria's homelessness sSolutions Task Force has not proposed anything actionable to the City Council. The Clatsop County commission has not prioritized action on this issue until fiscal 2022.
Meanwhile, local law enforcement, our two hospital emergency departments and Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare represent the principal resources in our communities available to deal with a multifaceted problem that has not been successfully addressed by far wealthier cities and counties.
Additional resources are provided by Clatsop Community Action, Helping Hands, Filling Empty Bellies and the Astoria Warming Center. But none of these groups is adequately staffed or funded.
Our local shortage of affordable housing makes recruiting professionals almost impossible. If, like Los Angeles, we were given 180 days to come up with viable solutions, a crisis would ensue, as we are not prepared.