The City of Portland’s challenge with the homeless crisis is not new, but it’s a growing issue demanding more attention from the City, especially in light of recent outcries from downtown businesses. The issue was a hot topic at ORLA’s Portland Lodging Alliance meeting this week, where several area lodging operators discussed recent talks with city leaders and next steps businesses can take. Hoteliers have seen an increase in antisocial, threatening and criminal behavior among homeless individuals outside (and in some cases inside) their hotels and are looking for real solutions from city leaders.
Earlier in November, ORLA President and CEO, Jason Brandt, and Government Affairs Director, Greg Astley, along with a few restaurant owners and hoteliers, met with Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Nick Fish to discuss the industry’s concerns and how the city plans to address homelessness. While the Mayor conveyed, they are taking steps including increasing community policing, he’s asking for help from the business community. Greater enforcement and new ordinances regulating homeless behavior on city streets need to be considered, and industry members are encouraged to keep pressing city leaders to find solutions.
At an invitation-only meeting on November 21, city leaders gave several business owners the opportunity to voice their concerns about the growing homeless problems in downtown Portland. Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese participated in the town hall. In addition to more officers on the streets, some parts of downtown labeled "high pedestrian zones" may soon ban overnight camping, including on sidewalks and doorways.
The homeless issue is not isolated to downtown Portland, it’s everywhere, and lodging properties near the Portland Airport are also speaking up and taking action. ORLA is working with the PDX Airport Lodging Group in conjunction with Travel Portland’s Community Action Committee to address some of the issues such as car break-ins, vandalism, aggressive panhandling, and drug use. Lodging operators were provided forms to use in reporting incidents that include the potential loss of revenue and/or cost of the incident to their property. With the information gathered, ORLA will continue to push the City of Portland to prioritize and take action in those areas where businesses are being affected by these incidents.
If you’d like to get involved or have questions regarding the issue, contact ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs, Greg Astley at 971.224.1502 or email Astley@OregonRLA.org.