Inner Southeast Portland, as well as many other neighborhoods, have been turned into a toilet by the city’s ever burgeoning homeless population. Despite repeated complaints to City Hall, the Portland Police Bureau, and the One Point of Contact resource set up by the City of Portland, no tangible work can be seen getting done to solve the problem. Instead, certain organizations enable the continued degradation of the quality of life and the ability to conduct business in the city.

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

Urine and its undeniable stink permeate the air along many Inner SE streets near this church on 1131 SE Oak Street. It is hard to find a shadowed area along any building in its vicinity that hasn’t had human feces in it. Dilapidated vehicles, tents, shopping carts, and an array of other structures being used as shelter line the streets, 24 hours a day. Why? Because the church feeds these folks, regardless of how poor of a citizen they may be. 

Regardless of how many stolen bike parts they have at their camp. Regardless of how many times they crap in the alcove of a surrounding business or in the yard of a neighboring resident. Regardless of their past or present criminal activity. Regardless of complaints from neighbors. Regardless of the proximity to preschools. Regardless of the fact that it is now unsafe to walk in this neighborhood, day or night. If you want a free meal, St. Francis will give you one.

Why do they allow this?

Helping people in need. That’s a hard thing to argue against. How uncivilized must you be, how severely do you lack compassion in order to want a church to stop feeding people? It is a noble cause, something that most people would support if you were feeding stray cats or dogs. 

But when the people being helped cause such a major nuisance to the surrounding area, it gets easier to understand why the churches actions are getting harder and harder to swallow. The negative impact to the surrounding businesses and residents is undeniable.

Does St. Francis pay to clean things up?

One would think that St. Francis would do at least one of two things. First, they should implement a system with which they could evaluate a person’s sense of social responsibility before they offer them a meal. Perhaps a liaison who visits the camps, checks for obviously stolen property and works with people to find ways to live on the streets without stealing from front yards and cars. 

If you are legitimately trying to be a good citizen, then you are rewarded with hot food. Next, St Francis should feel obligated to help the neighborhood cleanup from the mess the homeless folks leave behind. St. Francis should have staff out on the streets, cleaning up litter and cleaning human feces off of the entry ways of surrounding businesses. 

They do, after all, sit on a property valued at over four million dollars. They pay zero property taxes to help support city services that can help the problems they create with their charity. Most homeowners in inner southeast Portland, even owning modest properties, are paying upwards of five thousand a year in property taxes. Yet the voices of these homeowners are ignored by all members of the city. The only one paying less in taxes and creating more problems is probably Donald Trump! #CityThatWorksPeopleOver #Homelessness