Portland Earns Top Spot On List of Cities Destroying Homeless Camps
It's not a distinction that Portland city officials would necessarily want, but never-the-less, Maine's largest city tops the list of cities destroying homeless camps and waging war against its poorest citizens.
The website, U.S. Uncut, has compiled a list of cities that it says are not treating their homeless residents as well as they should. Locations on the list include Seattle, Phoenix, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and others. Each city has cleared homeless encampments in December, a time of year when people are supposed to be feeling goodwill toward their neighbors.
But in the number one spot is Portland, Maine, where city officials have had crews destroying encampments along I-295 as part of a brush-clearing operation. Residents of the encampments were given 24 hours to vacate the site before it was destroyed, leaving them with few options.
In addition, earlier this year, city officials cut funding to homeless shelters. That decision has caused the city to stop reimbursing local motels who would offer overflow space to the homeless when the shelters were full. This leaves Portland's homeless population few options other than to sleep outside during our most brutal of seasons.
State officials told the Portland Press Herald that the cleanup was designed to improve the appearance of the highway, which runs along the city's downtown region. The article goes on to say that it was needed to improve public safety, at the request of Portland Police. Drug use, which leaves behind dangerous needles, and sexual assaults are just a couple of the issues police say they deal with often at the camps.
One camp resident, Jamey Wade, told the PPH that they just want to survive but "people don't want to accept us as part of society."