A welcome surprise

I spent an exhausting day at the Oregon State Capitol with the houseless contingent and their allies. Many appointments had been set up for houseless people who had walked more than sixty miles to meet legislators and explain their issues, and in almost every case, the legislators delegated the meetings to their aides, many of them young and inexperienced. 

An exception was our Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, (see Extra) who met with us in her office, listened attentively, knew some houseless people in her own district, and seemed genuinely to care and to know about the absurd barriers erected in order to demean, disempower, and humiliate houseless people. 

I gave a ride to a houseless woman in her forties who had walked the whole way down to Salem. She had several large plastic bags with her belongings in them and a rickety grocery cart she was able to fold up and put in my car. On the way back to Portland in hideous traffic she told me some of her story: she had a low-wage full-time food service job, and when her rent was raised two years ago, she could no longer pay both rent and electricity. Her landlord evicted her because she didn't keep the electricity on, and she became homeless. Shortly before I dropped her off at her destination, I asked her where she was going to sleep tonight. "I have no idea," she answered. "The cops chased me out of the park and took my tent, so I'll be looking for a sheltered doorway to sleep in. I have a couple in mind. I'll be okay, don't worry."

But I do worry. 

P.S. No news media. None. Zip. Zero. 

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