The city of Portland is experimenting with a new “safe sleep policy” that allows homeless residents to sleep on sidewalks until 7am, and local officials are “following it closely” to see if it could help address Seattle’s own housing crisis. Should we give it a shot or kick it to the curb?
“Absolutely this is a good idea. We have to value human life, so it’s only humane to offer people a place to sleep that is protected. People die from sleeping on the street unprotected. But they also need a place to go to the bathroom, clean up, take a shower.” —Sharon Lee, executive director, Low Income Housing Institute
“We are in a state of emergency, and there are homeless folks everywhere. You can’t ignore the tents and the garbage, which is certainly a public health issue and a public safety issue. At the same time, I don’t believe that tent cities or laws that allow folks to stay on streets in a tent is an answer.” —Janet Pope, executive director, Compass Housing Alliance
“Creating safe sleep sites is essentially creating unauthorized encampments in public spaces. Authorized encampments come with rules, case management, and other services designed to move people forward. If experts have already said that authorized encampments are not the solution, these safe sleep sites move us further in the wrong direction.” —Jeff Lilley, president, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission Washington