Oasis Village Redmond (copy)

Construction of Oasis Village, a transitional housing project for homeless people, nears completion in Redmond.  

An issue that harms our political process is that those most affected by legislation often have no influence in the decision-making process. This is especially true for houseless populations when decisions are intended to make the issue disappear, rather than there being a process whereby needs are considered and addressed. Even more telling is that the conversations themselves rarely include the voices of our neighbors in the houseless community.

We are two Bend students attending Portland State University in the grad school program for social work and are considering what could happen if there was a more robust conversation surrounding houselessness that centered the voices of those affected. What impact would it make on legislative priorities? Could the community begin to (rightly) see that these people are our neighbors; our friends, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers; that their lives hold equal value; that their housing situation does not alter their humanity?

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Tim Hellmann and Cody Meyer are from Bend and students in the graduate school program of social work at Portland State University.

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(4) comments

Skittish

While well intentioned, the authors don't recognize their empathy is misplaced and over done - they have no idea how they could even be wrong. Not everyone in the US or even Bend is necessarily my neighbor, friend, family etc. The vast majority of people are strangers and we have no knowledge or authority in their lives, therefore no responsibility. We shouldn't help people just because they are nice. Although we are all human, if the homeless don't take responsibility for and value their own humanity first, we can't be their substitute.

The vast majority of people maintain access to housing - no we are not all just living on the edge of becoming homeless.

The homeless are a complicated bunch and we are not their solution and caring doesn't necessarily lead to doing something and not doing something doesn't mean one doesn't care. Finally, the homeless are not our children and are adults who have had plenty of opportunities to succeed, yet made a series of mistakes over time to end up where they are.

And yes, I have listened to homeless and former homeless intently for over a decade, from a position the vast majority do not have. There are those who can be helped, but the majority on any given day, month or even year are simply not willing to help themselves, which is a prerequisite for society considering helping them.

fanofjournalism

Thank you, Tim and Cody, for your thoughtful and beautifully written column. The world is better for your work and humanity.

cskowlund

The houseless population, like all minorities, tends to be looked upon by many in the "majority" with suspicion. All it takes is one bad actor in the minority to give the majority the justification it needs to condemn the minority. Of course, this view neglects the fact the the majority itself has bad actors but, not surprisingly, the majority does not condemn itself because of the bad actions of a few of its members (i.e., it gives itself the tolerance it rarely gives to the minority).

88463

Thank you, Tim and Cody, for your very thoughtful letter.

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