“Once you on the streets, you stay there”



The homeless population is rising in Oregon

Celeste Ramirez, Staff Writer

The Oregon homeless population sits at an all-time high as of 2022. It isn’t hard to see the growing number of homeless individuals over the past 3 years. Increasing weather crises and global pandemics have helped to shed light on the homeless issue. Many factors contribute to the issue, including inflation, unemployment, lack of resources, drug addictions, and troubled upbringings.

I’ve noticed that there are two kinds of reactions when speaking about homelessness. The most common is the sympathetic people who ask themselves, “What would I do if I was homeless, could I ever even be homeless?” Then there are the people who firmly believe that “If they wanted to, they could just get a job.” Both are completely valid reactions; however, it’s much more complex than just “getting a job.” 

Inflation is the highest it’s ever been, and the imbalance of supply and demand is always going up and down. Every penny earned is put into another fee due. I am fearful of being an adult. I grew up in a good home, I have knowledge of ways to make a living. Unfortunately, a large number of homeless individuals grew up on the streets with no knowledge of how to survive in this economy. 

“My mama could barely pay the bills. When she was gone it was just me, a 15-year-old ain’t know how to pay a mortgage.”- homeless individual in Portland.  Navigating the economic crisis will not be fulfilled by simply “getting a job.” Employment is a tricky territory to enter, especially with little to no resources to acquire employment. “Help Wanted” signs are seen scattered across windows. There is work available, but oftentimes that work is hard labor for little pay. Trying to survive in this environment of high pricing is what lands most people on the streets. A common phrase seen in many homeless individuals is “once you are on the streets, you stay there.” Living on the streets is a culture of itself. People adapt to the environment around them, so once someone lands on the streets they will likely pick up the lifestyle quickly.

Drugs are the language of the streets. Stepping into Portland, there is a visible representation of drugs ruining the lives of human beings. When there is nowhere else to go, nothing else to do, drugs seem to be the source of entertainment. According to the LA Times, the second leading cause of death was due to drug overdoses (fentanyl in particular), and many of these deaths came from those without a home. 

The homeless population will only continue to increase unless there is an action taken to fix the situation. Many people are suffering because of the economic issues we are currently facing. Those without a home are not there because they want to be here, they’re there because they simply have nowhere else to go, and nothing else to do.