In Portland, concerns about homelessness and safety were at the center of recent campaigns for both local and state offices, and the city has now advanced a contentious plan to ban street camping, hoping eventually to direct people who do not have housing into a series of city-run tent sites.
The city has also moved to get more homeless people into mental health care. The region’s capacity for mental health services has long been strained. Two months ago, three hospital systems sued the state, saying that people who were civilly committed because they were a danger to themselves or others ended up languishing in hospitals for months instead of being placed in long-term treatment, such as at the state psychiatric hospital.
Tina Kotek, a Democrat who recently won the governor’s racehas vowed to pursue policies to build more housing, increase the number of people who work with homeless populations, and expand services for those experiencing a mental health crisis.
In East Asian cities, homelessness tends to be far less common than it is in the United States. But the problem does exist, and in some places it worsened during the pandemic as some of the working poor were unable afford housing in expensive real estate markets.
Hong Kong, a Chinese territory with high rates of inequalityis one of several East Asian cities where homeless people have for years sheltered in plain sight, including at 24-hour McDonald’s restaurants. The number of people registered as “street sleepers” in the territory roughly doubled over a seven-year period, to more than 1,500 last year, according to a government report — slightly more than the reported figure in Singaporeanother wealthy banking hub in the region.