Open Letter to Ted Wheeler: Preserve hope for the homeless

To Mayor Ted Wheeler,

I am writing to ask you to allow the self-managed houseless community in Northeast Portland, Village of Hope, to remain in place. Please listen to the advocates attempting to save lives among the homeless: Steve Kimes, Ibrahim Mubarak and Lisa Lake. They’re out helping those without housing every day and have better ideas for solutions than anyone else.

Maybe the current solutions aren’t ideal, but ideal solutions are often either too expensive or allow undue suffering while being developed.

I grew up one block from Peninsula Park and enjoyed the pool there every summer. In 1957, it transformed into a temporary home for Portland Zoo’s penguins while a new home was built for them at the zoo.

Was it ideal? Not to my childhood mind, but it was a sacrifice necessary to make our city a better place. I think it was the right choice.

In my opinion, today’s homeless are more valuable than penguins.

Village of Hope is a step toward reclaiming the area for all of us by providing the homeless a safe space to receive the help they need for now.

I am a 63-year-old woman who has never been homeless. I’ve had no fear walking the trails of the Big Four Corners natural area since the Village of Hope was established. I drive by the area every week, and I’ve never seen it used by anyone but homeless folks.

Trying to keep the homeless out is a losing battle. I know many homeless people trying very hard to meet the expectations of the housed in order to qualify for help. When they are not allowed to live anywhere, they can’t make progress.

Without support they do put stress on the environment, but with an organized village, crime will be minimized and damage will be reduced. Why not preserve the area by allowing advocates to assist?

We can overcome this crisis if we are willing to live with less-than-perfect solutions for a season.

Village of Hope should remain in place.

Thank you for your ear,

Elsie Frani Grover

Homeless advocate; lifelong Portland Metro area resident

Read Vanguard’s two-part coverage of Village of Hope: Keeping hope alive: The Celebration and Keeping hope alive: The Eviction.