Letters to the editor
Plight of homeless needs better solutions
In "Home on the streets," reporter Mandy Feder-Sawyer put a face on homelessness not often shown in the news. I agree with your editorial conclusion that sending homeless people "somewhere else" is no solution when there is nowhere else to go. We, as a town and a nation, have to stop making poverty a criminal offense.
Drug use and mental illness are separate issues and need their own solutions. But an impoverished family unit with school children, one working parent, and a desire to keep their children in their familiar school shouldn't be considered as "social undesirables" to be hounded from place to place.
I agree it's miserable when a neighborhood changes. Property owners shouldn't have to run the gauntlet of bad behavior before they can use public facilities such as walking paths, but that's a police issue.
In the meantime we need to find a way to accommodate what I would call the harmless homeless. It may be that a neighborhood can best protect itself by working to find better solutions for the root causes of our current dilemma. We need to support, and insist on, affordable living spaces for families like the Kelvins.
I commend The Valley Times for giving space to this side of the issue, and for engaging the talent of Ms. Feder-Sawyer to cast a light on an under-reported side of the story.
Glennis McNeal, Beaverton
Too much waste in government spending
TriMet is tossing out a possible bond to raise $1.7 billion to assist in paying for a new light rail line, while at the same time we find out that the PERS deficit is ballooning to $25.3 billion as recipients of this poorly concocted plan continue to bankrupt our state.
Waste is waste. From the Columbia River crossing studies to the Cover Oregon debacle, to the millions of dollars wasted on the projected cost of the OHSU tram, the money thrown away by this state is mind boggling, while our so-called leaders can't figure out the homeless nightmare in our city and state.
I will never vote to give this state or city another dime until all the blatant waste stops. Period.
James Maass, Beaverton
Cities need policies on affordable housing
I tried to offer a different perspective on Nextdoor, which is the social media platform referred to in this article ("Home on the streets." While some expressed similar ideas, many of the responses I got were hostile.
No one wants to address the root causes of homelessness, which are varied. No one in this camp is choosing to live on the street, and I find it hard to believe they are dumping human waste or discarding needles in the area. Those accusations alone are prejudiced stereotypes and won't accomplish anything other than a "sweep" that will force them to go elsewhere.
People are being driven out of their homes because landlords are greedy and rents are two or three times what they should be. I don't think Beaverton has ever dealt with a homeless camp. This should send a strong message about the need for affordable housing (and not just one building in downtown Beaverton) and rent control.
I'm heartbroken, too, that the message being received is one of discompassionate elitism.
Emily Calkins, Beaverton
Nation isn't trying to save Asian culture
Our Lady of Lavang Vicariate, Portland's cultural hub for Vietnamese tradition, voted to cancel its annual Christmas Concert. This was after the board had decided to close its high-school language program in 2010, and defund various choirs in 2006. But it wasn't the church's fault. Generation Z, the generation of the young Asian-American population, has been causing this cultural shut-down because of their blatant rejection of Asian tradition.
Eleven years ago, I served as president of the graduating foreign-language class and director of the youth choir. I volunteered for the Andrew Dung Lac Parish Community for six additional years, led the Eucharistic Youth Society, and helped found Asian/Pacific-Islander clubs at high schools. Since the Vietnam War, I have surrounded myself in an exclusively Vietnamese community to restore hope for the damage America created. Thus, I have seen and know for a fact that America has been hurting the minds of our young. Asian-American youth have appropriated to their societal culture, America, and have slowly forgotten their own ways of life.
Not too long ago, the church community had been a vibrant contingent, especially during the parish's annual Mid-Autumn Festival. Crowds had once chattered socially, lanterns had dangled aimlessly in the wind, and children had once clambered around, in a frenzy to redeem their tickets for prizes. Many non-denominational and other Asian-Americans were welcomed in to join the atmosphere. Close one's eyes and one would have heard soda cans popping open and ripe laughter filling the air. But this year, the wind changed course.
When I arrived to the festival to volunteer, I noticed the same decorations, moon cake vendors, and traditional drums set up. Dragon dancers stood, bored, and dressed-up women shifted their dance hats nervously. Everything was prepared and ready, but there were very few children in sight.
At the close of the event, at 11 p.m., the last car drove away from the parking lot. In total, there were roughly 50 children total who attend this year. To think before 2010, they had poured from the school by the hundreds.
The day was no special case. By the time they reach middle-school, foreign-language students will drop 40 percent and cultural activity participants will drop nearly 50 percent. In other words, a Vietnamese kindergarten class at that had once boasted nearly 80 students total will eventually degrade to a dwindling size of 40.
When asked why they weren't attending anymore, the children pause then reply, "My parents didn't feel like going this year, and I didn't want to go either."
The crux of the problem is this; we are not enforcing enough tradition on our next generation. It's in turn hurting your Asian culture because the culture will be lost without people to uphold them. In fact, instead of defunding these cultural programs, we need to be working harder to fight this wave of cultural apathy. Bring back our concerts, schools, and organizations that promote Asian culture to our children, because one day when we leave, we will need the next generation to fuel the flame.
Ryan Locke, Beaverton