Hawthorne Hamlet

Portland / Oregon / USA /

The site, as it stands, is an empty lot that rests between two parking lots. The site has been reused a myriad of times, from industrial materials storage/dumping to event parking to its current use – a space for unhoused individuals to commune. Though this has become quite troublesome to the area, these are people that have created a space for themselves that they can call home. The homelessness epidemic is one that started a long time ago in the Portland Metro Area. The people of Portland and surrounding areas are all too familiar with the state of cleanliness or lack thereof. This social issue is one that began with a few unsightly areas and since has evolved into a “lost community” of sorts that has spread across the entire city. You can witness dwellings on most city corners, blocks, neighbourhoods, parks, lots, and even highways.

This illegal inhabitation of public space has created problems for the community such as litter, pollution, graffiti, displays of violence, drug use, an increase in hospitalization and death. People take pride in where they reside but by having to interact with people using substances and experiencing these areas on a daily basis, the city of Portland has gone from a green, robust, lively, arts-driven city, into one that people are ashamed of. There have been many attempts at reducing the population of unhoused individuals and assisting in their rehabilitation/reintroduction to society. However, most have failed or been de-funded. The problem we are facing now can be posed as an in-depth question: How are we to reclaim these lost spaces, strengthen our community, and help the individuals that seek assistance? This is a question we should continually ask ourselves.