Portland Business Alliance Helped Fund Poll Showing Citizen Anger Around Homelessness

Mayor Ted Wheeler tried to pre-empt the criticism last week, with the PBA at his side.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler held an unusual press conference Oct. 6, pre-emptively responding to a KGW-TV documentary on homelessness called Tent City, USA.

At the table with Wheeler was a representative of the Portland Business Alliance, which hammered former Mayor Charlie Hales over his handling of homelessness.

But PBA was playing both sides: It had contributed $1,200 to a KGW poll showing anger around homelessness, says PBA president and CEO Sandra McDonough.

She says funding the poll didn't reflect criticism of City Hall. "Our conversations with the city since Jan. 1," she adds, "have gotten a lot more productive."

"I thought it was a really interesting poll," she says. "I don't think it's surprising that people want more to be done. It really shows what Portlanders want is a program that lead with compassion and offers solutions for people who are living on the streets. They also want livability issues dealt with. They want both."

Wheeler has taken a similar approach: increasing funding for homeless-camp cleanups while maintaining support for more shelter beds.