The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Readers Respond to an Instagram Account That Asserts Portland Looks Like Shit

“Show it, let everyone see their possible future. I can see this happening to me eventually. No matter how much you work, it’s still not enough to live here with any comfort.”

Since June 2020, anonymous Instagram account @portlandlookslikeshit has been posting images of homeless encampments and unhoused people, many of whom appear to be experiencing mental distress (“Bad Influence,” WW, July 21, 2021). The account has grown in popularity in recent months, accumulating over 53,000 followers and hundreds of likes per post amid civic frustration over conditions on the streets. Critics of the account claim it exploits and dehumanizes Portland’s most vulnerable citizens. Here’s what our readers have to say:

Mary Thiel, via Facebook: “I walk through many neighborhoods and I see beautiful, well-kept gardens and lovely houses. Yes, there is an increase in homelessness with an increase in the lack of ability to dispose of trash that a housed person has and just takes for granted, but it is confined to certain places, and by no means is the whole city. This deeming Portland as trashy is Trump-inspired right-wing BS, designed to make sure that the truly filthy people, the rich, don’t have to pay taxes to fix anything, And it is also a way to cruelly scapegoat and demonize the homeless.”

Galaxy, via wweek.com: “Living in the Portland metro area, I can confirm that the title of this article and the @portlandlookslikeshit Instagram account are accurate. The scenes the Instagram account documents are consistent with what I have observed.”

@JayChucksFrank, via Twitter: “But what does this Insta account propose be done about the plight they’re focusing on? All cities have these issues, and there are so many areas that do not look like this. They’re painting with a massive brush.”

Shawn Alvey, via wweek.com: “Yeah, how dare the city residents document the mayor and City Council’s abject failures to govern despite the massive taxes and fees they levy…?”

Griefo, via wweek.com: “Show it, let everyone see their possible future. I can see this happening to me eventually. No matter how much you work, it’s still not enough to live here with any comfort. The rent has more than doubled in the last five years and the wages have not. People on SSI and disability don’t get nearly enough to even rent a small studio apartment. The homeless will be the majority in this city if things keep going this way.”

Stephanie Bruce, via Facebook: “Although I don’t like them showing faces of people, I think it does address the real problems going on here. It’s not just one area. It’s the entire city. The local government has largely ignored these issues. I think it brings to light how bad it has gotten. We hear a lot of ‘talk’ but never true action happening to help the homeless, drug addiction, and mental illness. I’ve lived here my entire life. It’s sad to see the state of the city I once loved.”

Natalie Belle, via Facebook: “Most of Portland doesn’t look awful! Certainly pockets do, that’s true. But if we can find ways to help homeless people off of the streets, and organize community trash pickups (or provide monetary incentives for collection), our city would be a lot happier, healthier and safer.”

Kyle Thomas, via Facebook: “A major city with pockets of those forgotten by the system, who would have thought! Portland is no different than any other major city, it’s just drastically smaller than most, making all the ‘trashy zones’ appear to be rampant due to proximity. I live here, it’s a lovely place. Could some areas be cleaned up? Sure. But let this be in a mindful and respectful way of those down and out. If we had a dollar for every time someone complained about the state of this city who doesn’t even live in the actual city proper, and especially doesn’t live in these ‘bad zones,’ we’d have enough to pay for the situation right there.”

LEtters to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words.Submit to: 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210.Email: mzusman@wweek.com