More than a Footnote: Observing Homelessness in Portland

During lunch yesterday, while the interpreter took a well-deserved break, a poignant conversation emerged when one of the delegates from St. Petersburg asked a seemingly benign question:

"What are all these people building beds on the streets?"

"I'm sorry, could you repeat the question, I don't understand."

"The people, they are lying down in the streets everywhere. It is not very pretty. Why is the city promoting that?"

Again, more confusion. Then, clarity: "Ah, you're talking about the homeless, yes. Portland has a pretty significant problem with homelessness."

"Where are all these refugees coming from?"

"I don't think most of them are refugees."

[Long pause.]

"So these are not foreigners? They're American citizens? These are your own people?"

"Yup, most of them."

[Another long pause.]

"Wow, that's unbelievable."

Source: KATU News

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