Has Portland Had Enough?

Whenever I get depressed over the steep decline suffered by the city of Minneapolis, I console myself with the thought that it could be worse: we could be Portland. Portland, home of Antifa; site of a skyrocketing violent crime rate; abandoned by one business after another; beset with homelessness.

But now, maybe Portlanders–those who are left–have had enough. The city’s far-left Mayor Ted Wheeler has announced plans to deal with the city’s homeless crisis:

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has announced plans to ban unsanctioned homeless encampments in the crime-riddled city – calling the crisis “a vortex of misery for all involved.”

I’m so old I can remember when a city didn’t have to “ban” homeless encampments. They were already illegal. But that was another age, I guess.

“The magnitude and the depth of the homeless crisis in our city is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Wheeler said Friday. “We need to move our scattered, vulnerable homeless population closer to the services that they need.”

But the fundamental problem is that a great many homeless people consider access to drug dealers to be the “services that they need.” One well-intentioned effort to address the problem after another has foundered on this reality.

Still, I wish Portland well. The problem there is out of control.

Local officials note that homelessness is a major problem in Portland dating back years and only got worse since 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, a housing shortage and high drug addiction rates have contributed to the crisis.

Homelessness is mostly a drug and mental illness problem, but many cities have found it to be intractable. Large sections of Portland have been rendered more or less unlivable, as has happened in other cities:

Last month, disabled residents claimed in a federal class-action lawsuit that the city is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because they can’t traverse the city amid the widespread homeless encampments obstructing the sidewalks.

The plaintiffs want the city to clear sidewalks of tents and garbage and “construct, purchase, or otherwise provide for emergency shelters in which to house the unsheltered persons” who may be affected.

But it isn’t only the disabled who can’t walk down the street in Portland:

Meanwhile, a recent survey commissioned by Wheeler found that nearly half (48%) of 500 residents who responded felt unsafe walking alone at night in their own neighborhood. Of those who felt unsafe, 78% reported they were afraid of being physically assaulted.

Portland has seen a sharper increase in violent crime than many other major cities.

Homicides in the city increased 83% from 2019 to 2020….

When half the people in a city don’t feel safe walking out of their own homes–and reasonably so!–the city is in crisis. In my opinion, the collapse of cities like Portland and Minneapolis is due to a generation or more of liberal governance. The problem is that societal decline is a complicated process. It can’t be reversed by panicked responses, like Ted Wheeler trying to move homeless encampments to sanctioned areas, or Keith Ellison declaring he isn’t in favor of defunding the police after all.

Preservation of civilized norms requires preservation of civilization, and our civilization has been viciously undermined by the Left for many years. Liberals have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. I doubt that there is much they can do about it.

STEVE adds: I’ll be in Portland in two days to give a speech. I’ll try to give a first hand report from downtown.

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