Portlanders respond to this question: Does Portland make it too easy to be a street kid?
• Suzi Helmlinger, a downtown Portland business owner who lives in Southeast Portland: 'Absolutely! Tolerating differences is one thing, but having these individuals 'hang out' in places like beautiful Pioneer Courthouse Square or on the MAX sends a message to the hardworking, taxpaying, law-abiding public. I believe that message is: 'People who want to spend money and help the economy bounce back are not welcome.' Let's face it, conservative people prefer to go to places where they are not intimidated. Street kids love to intimidate and will continue to do so until they grow up.'
• Levi Barnett, 2003 graduate of Lincoln High School, where he served as student body president, and now a university student in Paris: 'I don't think it was ever easy to be a street kid in Portland, but either way, state budget cuts have certainly made it much harder now.'
• Rachel Gerber, a legal secretary in Portland who lives in Beaverton: 'Being a street kid can't be easy, and I'm proud that Portland provides them top-notch services. But the buck stops at crime, and we are too soft on lawbreakers. This leniency is detrimental to the kids and sounds a potential death knell for tourism.'Ê
• Misti Wittenberg, a long-term-care executive who lives in Northwest Portland: 'Absolutely! If Portland were a 'good Samaritan,' it would team with churches and nonprofits to teach how to earn necessities in life, rather than making them readily available. Portland's idea of 'help' enables street life.'