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'They are loving us to death': Homeless say Portland's policies make it too easy to live on the street, fail to empower

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Image Source: Twitter video screenshot

A recent video of a homeless woman living on the streets of Portland declaring that the city's policies have failed to empower the homeless population went viral on Twitter, KATU reported.

Kevin Dahlgren, who does homeless outreach for the nonprofit We Heart Portland, posted a candid interview on social media featuring a woman named Wendy, who has been living in a tent on the streets.

When asked what it is like to be homeless in Portland, Wendy tells Dahlgren that "it's a piece of cake."

"I mean, that's why you probably got so many out here because they feed you three meals a day," Wendy told Dahlgren. "You don't have to do s*** but stay in your tent or party. Or, if you smoke a lot of dope, you can do that."

Wendy told Dahlgren, "They are loving us to death."

Blanche House, a nonprofit in Portland's Old Town district, provides homeless people in the area with regular meals.

"That's really it," Wendy continued. "It's like, you wake up, you go eat at Blanche, get high. Go eat at Blanche for lunch, get high. Go eat dinner, get high. That's all you do, all day long, every day. I'm being honest."

She told KATU that these were only her observations of what is happening with the homelessness crisis in Portland and not her personal experiences.

"You get to the point where you're tired of being outside. You're tired of being cold," Wendy stated. "Last night, I couldn't get this tent up for nothing. I couldn't get it to sit up. So I finally went back into this piece of crap and covered up and just prayed to God I'd wake up in the morning because it was really cold last night."

Wendy, who is originally from Miami, noted that the city's policies have failed to help the homeless.

"That's why you see all the tents. People are up all night, sleep all day," she added.

Wendy stated that Oregon is the only state that allows homeless people to erect tents on the sidewalk.

"Here, you don't have any police," Wendy explained. "There's no police around. You get hurt, you're screwed because they're not helping anybody. You don't see them anywhere."

Scott Kerman, the Executive Director of Blanchet House, told KATU that Wendy's story does not accurately represent the entire homeless population's situation.

"We're going to speak for a lot of other voices who aren't going viral right now," said Kerman. "Women who come to us for a meal, and we see the fresh bruises and black eyes because they've been beaten up overnight. Or maybe worse. I don't think any of them would say that being homeless is a piece of cake."

According to Dahlgren, Wendy is not the only person living on the streets of Portland who feels the city's policies have failed to empower the homeless.

"Not just Wendy, but multiple homeless have said that the system is 'loving us to death," Dahlgren stated. "They hate the idea that they're being enabled. They may not say no to it, but they still don't like it. What they want is to be empowered. They want responsibility. They want accountability."

"This is a humanitarian crisis. Why aren't outreach workers out here 24/7, seven days a week, solving this? Where are they?" Dahlgren added.

Dahlgren said that he hopes his video interview with Wendy, which received nearly 8 million Twitter views, will encourage the city to rethink how it is tackling the homelessness crisis.

"There is nothing compassionate with allowing people to live on the streets," Dahlgren stated.

Content warning: profanity

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