Readers Respond to the Emptying of the Taft Home

“I cried reading this story. This poor woman has been through so much.”

Last week’s cover story examined a baffling vacancy at the heart of Portland: a 115-year-old hotel called the Taft Home, which for decades housed people with mental and physical disabilities around the corner from the Crystal Ballroom (“The Mystery of the Taft Home,” WW, July 27). In December, the home’s operator shuttered rather than fix neglect discovered by state regulators. The building now stands vacant—despite being owned by the largest nonprofit provider of subsidized housing in Portland and receiving financing from the city’s Housing Bureau. One of its former residents, Josephine Allen, spent much of the past eight months sleeping in a tent across the street. Here’s what our readers had to say:

Norman Birthmark, via Facebook: “We used to watch ambulances visit the facility multiple times a day from our downtown apartment. It seemed to be a troubled facility, but daily ambulances are not unusual in assistance living. Very sad no one has figured how to reopen the much-needed housing.”

Dubious, via “More discouraging news about a city that cannot get its act together.

“‘Reach cannot sell the building without city approval until 2028, and cannot change the use of the building without the bureau’s permission.’ Doesn’t shifting from an occupied building serving the community to a vacant, shuttered building represent a change of use?”

Jim Hoch, via Facebook: “Nonprofits often have behavior as bad as, if not worse than, for-profit corporations. This is one of those times.”

@awesomEmilia, via Twitter: “Jesus Christ, just another example of policy failure by our local elected officials that leaves disadvantaged folks on the street. Why is our city led by incompetent people?”

Chelle Beck, via Facebook: “One of the biggest issues I’m seeing in our homeless crisis is how little we pay our care staff and mental health providers. We expect people qualified to work with the mentally ill to have high levels of college degrees and then pay them $45,000 a year. That’s barely enough to pay the bills, let alone student loans. We pay the people who care for the disabled a ridiculous $15 an hour and then wonder why there are staffing shortages. It’s like our society expects those with big hearts to just do the work for the love of people, totally taking advantage of their kindness. Makes me sad. Working with the mentally ill and disabled is hard work and so thankless. They deserve to be paid a sum that doesn’t require a second job!”

TK, via “Downtown Portland shoulders the burden as the central hub of services for the homeless and destitute of this state, but it’s time to get real and stop expecting 120-year-old buildings to not fall into expensive disrepair, with ancient facilities and codes. Especially with third-party operators, who aren’t interested in upkeep and hire 20-year-old caretakers who could give a sh**. It all affects how much residents and employees bother to make that place livable, and apathy is a quiet cancer in a place like that.”

Northwest Pilot Project, via Twitter: “We need deeply affordable housing with services for seniors and people with disabilities. No one should have to go through what Josephine and her neighbors experienced when the Taft shut down.”

Amanda Knoll, via Facebook: “I cried reading this story. This poor woman has been through so much.”


A recent item about Archbishop Alexander Sample (Quote of the Week, WW, July 20) incorrectly stated Legacy Health was affiliated with the Catholic Church. WW regrets the error.

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