How a Crucial Thread in Portland’s Social Safety Net Frayed Without Anyone Noticing

The Taft Home has been a brick red thread in the tapestry of this city for as long or longer than a lot of us have lived here.

If you’ve lived in Portland long enough, you probably have some manner of relationship with the Taft Home, a low-income, assisted living, senior home in Southwest Portland. It conspicuously sits on the iconic Crystal Ballroom block, a four-story, brick-red building plainly visible from the 405 where it heralds the exit that leads to Powell’s, the Crystal Ballroom, Everyday Music, and the glossy storefronts of the Pearl District.

Maybe, after a sweaty show at the Ballroom, you bummed a light from a bench-sitting resident while they smoked curbside, or maybe a cluster of elders laughingly barked at you while you tried to parallel park in front of the ground-floor restaurant Cassidy’s.

Almost assuredly, at the very least, you’ve walked past the corner-facing entryway of the Taft Home, and even if it didn’t register as a crucial piece of Portland property, it has undeniably been a brick-red thread in the tapestry of this city for as long or longer than a lot of us have lived here.

So why then, at a time in Portland history when chronic houselessness is unraveling that tapestry, did the city allow the Taft Home not only to eject—or hamfistedly attempt to rehome—nearly 70 elderly, high-risk, low-income tenants, then allowed the home to sit empty while a displaced resident camped in the empty plot of land across the street, looking at the boarded-up windows of the home she’d had for years?

Anyway, what are you mad about today?

On this week’s episode of the Dive, we talk to reporter Sophie Peel about what went so horribly wrong at the Taft.

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