The city of Portland, where I live, is the urban center of a county with more than fifteen thousand homeless people. That figure includes not only people who sleep on the street and in shelters, but also those who sleep on friends’ couches, in cars, and in transitional housing. People often offer various explanations for why this is: the abundance of social services, the minimum wage, the way the Northwest’s moderate climate enables people to live outside for most of the year. In 2009, Oregon ranked first in the nation for homelessness per capita. I wanted to investigate this; to see who these people are, and how they get by. So I spent the summer of 2011 talking to some of the homeless population here in town.Here are most of the interviews in the series, posted by two literary magazines:
“Just Wander Around: Eddie.” Audio/text interview, Better: Culture & Lit, Issue 1 Fall/Winter 2012.
“We Have a lot of Resources, and a lot of Drag Queens: Kevin, Shelly, and Greg.” Curbside Splendor, September 2012.
“You Know, Like–I Don’t Know: Casper.” Curbside Splendor, September 2012.
“My Face Is a Mirror. Look At it. You Will See Yourself: Terry.” Curbside Splendor, September 2012.
“Just Stuck on This Corner for the Time Being: Elizabeth.” Curbside Splendor, September 2012.
“That Got Totaled, and That Was the End of That: 25-Year Old Addict.” Curbside Splendor, October 2012.
“Climb That Mountain.” Audio interview of a hitchhiking kid, The Collagist, October 2011.
Also: The Portland Mercury mentioned the series in September, which was nice of them.