By Rachel Dawson
A recent poll by the Portland Business Alliance found that 88% of voters believe their quality of life is getting worse. This is up significantly from 2017, when less than half of voters said the same thing. It’s not hard to understand why; all you need to do is step outside.
Tents and trash line our sidewalks, shootings are rising, and more cars are being stolen.
According to the poll, “voters overwhelmingly support requiring people currently living outside to sleep in shelters or designated camping areas” and 83% of voters support funding to hire and train new police officers. In fact, voters said that homelessness and crime are the top two issues facing our region.
This is the opposite of what elected officials have been doing. The Portland City Council voted to cut $15 million from the police budget in 2020, and most resources for homelessness are being used to place a handful of people “at risk of homelessness” into permanent housing. Perhaps this is why 81% of voters view Portland City Council as ineffective at providing services.
To regain the public’s trust, officials need to take action to solve the problems that voters are most concerned about. This would include shifting funds away from permanent housing to providing more shelter beds and designated camping areas, cleaning up the streets we once enjoyed, and setting the tone that crime is not tolerated in our neighborhoods.
Rachel Dawson is a Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.