Portland, Oregon is set to allocate $50 million to Urban Alchemy, a Californian organization, to manage mass homeless encampments. Perhaps ironically, one might ponder over how the homelessness situation in California has been faring. Yet, Portland, in its seemingly paradoxical wisdom, has chosen a company from the Golden State. Apparently, things are going so swimmingly in California that it’s time to bring their magic touch to Oregon, replicating whatever their secret sauce is to spend colossal amounts of money and see no real improvement. The cherry on top is the hiring of a certain Urban Alchemy employee who only two years ago, fired a gun in busy San Francisco street and is now pegged for a promotion. One might wonder, is this the new definition of a “star employee”?
Meanwhile, Mayor Ted Wheeler and City commissioners of Portland have voted unanimously to provide Urban Alchemy with a five-year, $50 million contract. This same company that is acclaimed for its workforce inclusive of people with criminal histories. You’ve got to appreciate the audacity of their hiring practices. Urban Alchemy argues that these individuals, because of their lived experiences, are especially skilled in de-escalating potentially violent situations. Though, how engaging in a street shootout becomes evidence of de-escalation skills is a mystery to many of us. Nevertheless, Mayor Ted is at least doing something, isn’t he? At the end of the day, he can point to this and say to his constituents, “I did that.”
Urban Alchemy has assured that it is capable of managing up to five sites. The fact that they have contracts in four different cities with nine government agencies might lend them some credibility. However, their approach to solving homelessness is to provide housing to people who traditionally reject housing. Essentially, they’re doing the exact opposite of what might actually work. The hard truth is, the homeless issue in Portland isn’t going anywhere with this strategy. But, at least the politicians can claim they’ve tried, right?
#UrbanAlchemy #PortlandHomelessness #IronyInAction
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