sydnei l. Oregon

homelessness problems

Homelessness is a huge problem in America that needs to be fixed. Future president, what will you do?

Dear future President, over 3million humans live in my state, Oregon. Almost 625,000 live in my city, Portland. According to, ( , during the 2015 point in time, there were 1,887 families and people who slept unsheltered , 872 people in emergency shelter, and 1,042 people who slept in traditional housing. In total that’s 3,801 people without a stationary home. How is it that so many people are living on the streets in a city where mansions sit on top of hills? Where there are markets that overcharge on small things like almond butter and hummus? In a country where the lottery winner gets millions of dollars? Homelessness is a big problem in my city that needs to be fixed.

Let’s start with the price of living in Portland. The average monthly rent to live in an apartment in a “normal” area is $1,052.00, and $1,460.00 a month for an apartment in an “expensive” area. Both prices are expensive for minimum wage to be $7.25. A home in Portland is priced at the average $1,797.00$ for rent, and in a normal area, priced at $1,397.00 a month ( With minimum wage being not even $8.00, that is still very expensive.Think of these expenses, then think of food. Think of clothes, utilities, and transportation. Not to mention having kids, or someone else you have to care for, you’re a very lucky Portland if you can easily afford living in this expensive city. Homeless people in many cases are either unemployed, or making a very low amount of money to be able to afford basic living, though the last time it was counted, 25% of people who were homeless in Portland had jobs. Now here’s a question, how is it that for a city with so many homeless people on the streets, is living a normal life so expensive?

Next, is the racial side of the homeless people. A 48% increase was recorded between 2013-2015 of how many unsheltered african-american families or singles were homeless. The percentage for other colored races aren’t as high in an increase, but all together, white people are outnumbered by coloreds. In my eyes, I see white privilege written all over these numbers. In my city, as well as everywhere else in America, colored people, especially black people are treated very differently than white people. In this case, getting employed to a high paying job. Particularly in Portland, you see white people everywhere, from the food carts downtown to the antique shops on mississippi street, and back to the fancy restaurants up on the hills. Most people will argue “well you aren’t opening your eyes, there are many broke and homeless white people,” but if you want to get technical the MAJORITY, is black. Unfairness is the key word to why black people have to be the highest percentage in homeless people in a predominantly white city. This also leads into a whole other concept on why black people are found drug dealing, prostitution, and stripping more than other races in America, leading into police brutality and more.

Lastly, I will explain the problem of children who are homeless. On the night of the homeless people count, 374 children slept in a car, on the streets or were put in temporary housing. On a personal note, my dad experienced being homeless and getting put in a foster home as a child. Kids should not have to deal with these problems as well as having to go through a day hungry, and without the proper nutrients for their body. Portland public schools plays a huge roll in the lives after school programs breakfast, lunch, and snack. Transportation besides walking can be a big problem for the child and their family though, having to save up money for the other expensive aspects of an everyday life.

In all, homelessness is not something that should be going on anywhere in our country. Every night thousands of people sleep without a home in every city, that adds up to millions of homeless in America. Future president, what will you do about this problem occurring in this so called “beautiful” and “proud” country? America the beautiful? Or should we really call it america the homeless?

Jefferson HS

Jefferson HS Students

10th,11th, and 12th grade students at Jefferson HS in Portland Oregon.

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