“Realtor” 3/14/2015

Not a day goes by in Portland when I don’t hear someone (probably me) complaining about the rising cost of housing in Portland. The city is growing, and new home construction cannot keep apace with the influx of new residents, many coming from more expensive real estate markets to take advantage of our relatively “cheap” deals. Rent has risen at a dramatic pace; rental property companies are scooping up apartment complexes, raising rent by 50% or more, and driving poor people into the streets.

I rent. I want a decent place I can afford. In this I am no different than most people on the market for a home around here. I work two jobs, forty hours a week, and make a decent income for a single guy with two kids. But I know I am so much better off than the people I see only a few blocks away, huddled in tents under the overpass. We have a really dysfunctional system of housing and poor rent control that is getting worse by the day.

And Portland is not alone. San Francisco police have been notorious over the years for tossing the belongings of homeless people into garbage trucks. Recently in Los Angeles the cops have been confiscating the “tiny houses” donated to homeless people, as if they were better off exposed to the elements. By and large this problem is ignored, treated as a problem for the fringe elements of society — as if that excused treating people like garbage. The presidential campaigns never mention it. You are more apt to hear talk of “the middle class” than about poverty and homelessness in any given election. Yet this “middle class” is only two or three paychecks away from winding up in the streets with the people they ignore. Maybe we should, I dunno, seek common cause with each other? Just a thought.

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