The City of Gresham, Oregon, population 110,000, had homeless encampment statistics with higher per capita numbers than Portland. Then Mayor Shane Bemis and Gresham Homeless Services Director Kevin Dahlgren solved the problem in 14 months by applying pragmatic compassion to the enforcement of existing laws.
Dahlgren took his education in substance abuse counseling and 25 years of work experience in the non-profit sector and quietly went about fixing what he knew was wrong with the existing approaches to ending homelessness. He calls it “A Bridge to Something Better” and indeed it is.
I recently sat down to talk to Kevin and concluded that his approach is the right approach for Seattle. He’s certain that his methodologies scale up to a city 7 times bigger than Gresham and I agree with him. Thankfully, Dahlgren has joined the board of the refreshingly successful boots on the ground homelessness solving group, We Heart Seattle, with Andrea Suarez at the helm.
It’s time for Seattle to “end it like Gresham”.