Homeless woman says living in Portland is ‘a piece of cake’

A homeless woman in Portland revealed how easy the Oregon city makes it to subsist in that lifestyle.

A woman identified only as Wendy told an interviewer from the nonprofit We Heart Seattle, “It’s a piece of cake, really; that’s probably why you’ve got so many out here.”

She mentioned that certain organizations will provide free food to the city’s homeless residents, letting the homeless do what they want in between those meals.

“You wake up, you go eat at Blanchet [House], get high, go eat at Blanchet for lunch, get high, go eat dinner, get high,” Wendy said. “That’s all you do, all day long, every day.” 

She also claimed that police are slow to help the area’s homeless, so “if you get hurt, you’re screwed, because [police] aren’t helping anybody.”

Wendy became homeless after she divorced her husband, according to the Daily Mail. She’s originally from Florida and worked as a hairstylist before her situation took a turn for the worse. 

She shared that she owned a pair of dentures until someone came into her tent one night and stole them. Wendy said she can’t work without teeth.

“I used to be just like everyone else,” Wendy said in another interview with We Heart Seattle days later. “I used to have a really good job, I had my own salon in Washington state, I drove a Lexus, I had a house and I loved doing hair.” 

The nonprofit started a fundraiser for the $400 Wendy needs for replacement dentures.

A total of 6,633 homeless people are living in Portland as of the city’s point-in-time counter from January 2022. Of those people, 3,611 were living on the streets and 2,222 people were in shelters.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler put forward a major proposal in October to move the city’s unsheltered population to three, 500-person campsites, build 20,000 units of affordable housing and ban “unsanctioned camping” on the city’s streets, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

The city council approved the $27 million plan, but it did amend the proposal to set up six, 250-person campsites instead of three larger ones.   

The ban on street camping will go into effect in 2024, according to KGW, an NBC affiliate in Portland.

Portland has been in a state of emergency over homelessness since 2015. The declaration lets the city expedite permitting and siting for shelters, as well as build affordable housing. The emergency is set to expire in 2025.

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