The challenges confronting the West Bayside neighborhood in Portland are difficult to miss.
Sandwiched between a bustling downtown and a former industrial zone, it’s the only place where downtrodden people can go to access a cluster of social services within a few blocks, whether it’s a meal, emergency shelter, welfare or help with employment. Many of the people using these services are struggling with mental illness, addiction or both, and the neighborhood bears the scars of a lack of treatment options.
Men and women, young and old, openly drink beer and do drugs, day and night. People urinate in doorways and throw empty beer cans on the sidewalks and in the alleyways. That reality is underscored by “No Trespassing” signs on front stoops and, in some cases, razor wire atop back-alley fences.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, a pair of used rubber gloves lay on the ground near a pile of litter not