The progressive community in Portland has for ten years supported the city's homeless paper, Street Roots. It has respected the paper's presumed advocacy for the homeless' best interst and dignity. When asked to support vendors or give money donations, the community has responded. Yet without consulting anyone in the homeless advocacy community, the director of Street Roots has decided to affiliate with the Portland Business Alliance. To what purpose? For whose gain? Is this simply bogus 'relation-building' that ultimately only benefits the director in his career track in the poverty industry? Or makes some of his like-minded non-homeless comrades, who helped form this decision, feel good about themselves for reaching out to their enemy? How Christian. 'Can't we all just get along?' Why sho we can massa!
All rationalization aside, who else benefits besides the director and his fellow-travellers? Who among the homeless benefits? Will the developers be more inclined to build less upscale housing and adhere to the 30% set-aside for affordable dwellings? Will business types push for police restraint? Will street musicians have it easier on downtown sidewalks?
Or is it safe to say that with the homeless paper serving as agent for the business community, the work of sequestering the homeless, neutering their outrage and activism, is being done for them? The question is why respect a 'homeless paper' that tells its supporters to bend it over for the business community which has imposed an unaccountable private security force and pressed for enforcement of sit-lie, the camping ordinance, the so-called 'drug free zones'? Why donate? Why read an outfit that merely sanitizes the homeless, makes them acceptable to the business types and the tourists and consumers they cater to, and renders homeless numbers harmless? What has the director done to organize vendors to be a tool for their own self-improvement, to organize!organize!organize! the homeless as a real instrument of their own power, besides post them out to beg while soliciting readers to 'get to know your vendor'?
How many even read the director's decison in the latest paper? It's on the inside back page, June 12th edition