The Board Members of the Lents Neighborhood Association are in support of the City of Portland’s Street Response Program. The launch of this program in our neighborhood is especially important to provide a human solution for community members experiencing houselessness or a mental health crisis and to support all of our neighbors — housed and unhoused. We believe that everyone in Lents shares a desire for a healthy, thriving community. To achieve this, we must work together to address the root causes of houselessness and increase access to behavioral health services, and we see the Portland Street Response Program as the first step of many to support this goal.
As a board, we commit to taking the following actions to support the successful roll out of the Street Response Program and our houseless neighbors:
- Partner with Street Roots’ Ambassador Program to facilitate conversations through a trauma-informed equity lens between housed and unhoused neighbors and improve communications and understanding between community members
- Ensure our organization represents our entire community, regardless of class, economic status, or housing status
- Recognize that houseless people are our neighbors just as housed people are our neighbors, and end an us vs them dynamic
- Encourage housed folks to make space to center the voices of the unhoused community in meetings and activities
- Build capacity for empathy in our membership to open our minds to non-punitive solutions that help unhoused neighbors embark on a solid path to becoming housed
Historically, government and neighborhood-based structures have viewed houselessness as a problem, and thus have not considered the individual rights of houseless people and provided human solutions. We welcome Street Response in Lents and are looking forward to being a part of the ongoing conversation on how we can end houselessness and mental health stigma, and create a thriving community for the entirety of our Lents neighborhood.