PORTLAND, Ore. — A part of Portland plagued by, what some deem, the worst of the city’s homeless crisis flipped the script Sunday, hoping to put the spotlight on the best their neighborhood has to offer.
The Lents Founders Fair started near Southeast 88th Avenue and Steele Street, stretched east for more than two miles, and featured more than 100 vendors, live music and other attractions.
Organizers had been planning it for months and were glad to see it serve as a sharp contrast to the sights and events that normally draw news cameras their way.
“In Lents we see homelessness, theft, drug addiction in spades,” said Robert Schultz, a neighborhood advocate who helped organize the event. “We see gentrification, people getting pushed out, can't afford the rent. So, we need events like this.”
The fair comes almost a year after the historic sweep of homeless campers from the Springwater Corridor.
A large portion of that trail runs through the Lents area, and for months leading up to the sweep, residents called on city officials to do something about rampant tent camping.
Back in April, Mayor Ted Wheeler told a townhall meeting full of Lents residents, the city had let them down.
Since then, Schultz said the city is paying more attention to the plight of both the housed and houseless in Lents.
Sunday, though, he said neighbors were happy to focus on their party, rather than the plight.
“This is a community,” said Schultz. “We are all neighbors who can come out and be together.”