If you think your houselessness will be different than that of people currently living on the streets just because you lost your home in a wildfire I’m sorry but you are wrong. My family became houseless as a result of a natural disaster. People quickly forget the cause, and you.
I was 15 when a flash flood ripped through my home in 2007. We had 20min to get out and move to higher ground. The house we fled to was overcome with river water. We were trapped on the top floor overnight, with no TV or phone, wondering if anyone knew where to find us.
The next morning water had receded. For the following weeks volunteers from other cities helped us clean up the destruction. Of around 800 homes affected, 600 did not have flood insurance. We were one of those families that couldn’t afford coverage
Soon volunteers stopped coming but the destruction remained. FEMA surveyed land for emergency trailers. Members of a neighborhood unaffected by the flood campaigned against the trailers, complaining they would lower property values. We had nowhere else to go.
The trailers were finally placed on a lot, nearly a year after the flood. There were only 21 trailers placed, not enough for everyone affected. They smelled like formaldehyde and gave us headaches. The mice moved in shortly after us.
Residents of the trailers were evicted in September 2009, a little more than a year after they moved in. Some were given cash assistance to help facilitate the move out. My father didn’t receive assistance until 2014, seven years after the flood.
For nearly 7 years my father lived in an RV on the land where our once home stood. The general contractor and handyman lost all his tools and materials. He had no funds to replace them. He couldn’t find work. He utilized food banks and clothing closets. He showered once a week.
People soon forgot how he had come to be that way. He was an outcast. Kids made fun of him, friends stopped calling him. He had always worked sunup till sundown to provide a life for us, and lost everything to the river. It was not his fault. He didn’t deserve this.
All this to say, houselessness is the result of extenuating circumstances. Always. No one deserves to live without shelter. There is no reason people in the richest country in the world should live on the streets.
The sky is filled with smoke. The fires could very well continue to destroy homes and neighborhoods and cities. Volunteers will be needed for more than a few weeks. Could you commit to adopting a family until they were back on their feet?
The fires could soon end, and I hope if that’s the case you remember your brush with potential houselessness. Advocate for those who have lost everything. Vote for people like @sarahforpdx /@sarah2020 who have concrete plans to end our housing crisis.

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More from @KatMcKelvey

11 Jun
Here’s a thread of visualizations regarding #portlandpolice use of force, arrests and budget. Will add here as I develop.
Portland police general fund is $236M. Shown here are other bureau that interest me. PPB’s general fund is almost more than all of them combined.
The Office of Equity and Human rights general fund is outspent by PPB 118:1.
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