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Sat Jun 23, 2012, 06:30 PM

Looking for tips and advice from people in the Portland area, please.

My wife and I have been dragging along in Las Vegas since we started living together in 2002, and frankly we can't stand to stay here a moment longer. However, we will be forced to until next summer.

We're on very limited incomes (I'm on disability and my wife has not been able to find even a fast food job in over 2 years of looking), but if we scrimp and save every available penny and receive a bit of help from concerned family members, we'll have just enough to rent a small van, get our stuff up there and then move into a cheap place (cheap as in $500/month for rent, plus another couple hundred for utilities).

I've been checking out apartment sites and Craigslist, but either the rents are too high or the information is very spotty, and being as we're still over a year out from being able to do this at all, I see no point in calling and bothering people for nothing.

So having said that, can some of you kind and awesome Portland area DU'ers point me towards places you may know of which are cheap but not located in an urban war zone? Are there any assistance programs to help low-income and disabled people get settled in? We want for my wife to get a job shortly after we arrive there, and even something part-time which only yields $600 or so a month would allow us to live with a modicum of security in the right environment.

I should note that we currently have four cats, but two of them are now 10+ years old and as they make their journey over the 'Rainbow Bridge', we won't be replacing any until we're down to two and then would only take one for a maximum of three furballs.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

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Reply Looking for tips and advice from people in the Portland area, please. (Original post)
Systematic Chaos Jun 2012 OP
laconicsax Jun 2012 #1
grasswire Jun 2012 #2
laconicsax Jun 2012 #4
grasswire Jun 2012 #3
quakerboy Jun 2012 #5
laconicsax Jun 2012 #6
quakerboy Jun 2012 #7
grasswire Jun 2012 #9
quakerboy Jun 2012 #11
grasswire Jun 2012 #13
quakerboy Jun 2012 #14
grasswire Jun 2012 #8
quakerboy Jun 2012 #10
grasswire Jun 2012 #12

Response to Systematic Chaos (Original post)

Sat Jun 23, 2012, 08:57 PM

1. The cheapest housing is generally East of SE/NE 82nd avenue.

 

There's also a cheap area known informally as "felony flats," that isn't uniformly as bad as it sounds. It's generally the area from SE 72nd Ave to SE 52nd Ave East to West and SE Foster Rd to the southern city limits (SE Clatsop/SE Harney) going North to South.

As for assistance programs, Home Forward may be a useful resource.

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:06 AM

2. east of 82nd avenue is also where crime is a growing problem.

Last edited Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:53 PM - Edit history (2)

A four part recent series in The Oregonian on affordable housing pointed out that gentrification has driven low-income people, minorities, and those who have trouble finding housing to the East County (east of 82nd).

On edit: I posted this because the OP has specifically asked for low-crime area. We all know that low-income and minority renters do not represent crime, but are often forced to live in that scene because of the oppressive housing policies of property owners in more Republican neighborhoods.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 02:11 AM

4. The crime problem in East Portland is a bit overstated.

 

If you go to the city crime mapper, you can see that the crime rates in East Portland are roughly the same as the rest of the city (excepting downtown and part of NE). When you look at the detail of specific crimes, the vast majority are localized near the main streets--(Stark, Division, 122nd, etc).

Granted it's not a particularly good part of town, but when you look at the detail, it isn't really any worse than the rest of the city.

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Response to Systematic Chaos (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:40 AM

3. don't give up

The housing and rental market is VERY tight in the Portland metro area. Rents are high, and landlords are extremely picky. But I think with patience you can find something decent. Here's my advice:

Don't bother with apartment sites. They run a scam on applicants here, and it's apparently legal, regarding the deposits and application fees etc. They snare people who don't have easy options, and the process is demeaning and ugly and very costly. Look instead for places offered by individuals. Could be a duplex. Couple be a walk-in basement. Perhaps even an apartment in a private home, with utilities included. What you find first doesn't mean it's your *forever* place. Just getting a foothold could be the immediate goal.

I read craigslist every day for two years and finally found a dream of a place. Just a dream.

So I suggest that you read craigslist every day just to learn what's out there. As the time gets closer, you can zero in and hopefully make something happen. You don't say where you hope to find work or if you want to be in the city or outskirts.

I don't believe you will find easily any assistance programs for low-income or disabled -- the waiting lists are long. There are programs that can help with energy assistance, etc. though.

I would recommend that (unless you are set on big-city living) you look just south of the city in Gladstone, Oregon City, or Milwaukie. Or perhaps east of city in Gresham. Why? Because outside of Portland's zoning restrictions, there are many more unique housing opportunities. Lots of older neighborhoods with fixer-uppers and modest alternatives. Crime is not an issue, people are friendly (it's kind of like stepping back a couple of decades), pets are more tolerated, etc.

You don't mention whether you have reliable transportion. But metro Portland's public transit is legendary, even despite some recent budgetary issues. Light rail runs to Gresham, and soon will be available to Milwaukie. Commuter bus service is available to Gladstone and Oregon City. You can even ride Amtrak from Oregon City to downtown Portland. A monthly metro transit pass for a disabled person is only $26 -- that takes you anywhere, any time for a whole month!

A couple of other thoughts: the Oregon Health Plan is also legendary. You may qualify for that. You may qualify for food stamp assistance? There are half a dozen food pantries in the areas I have mentioned, to supplement grocery needs.

Oregon City is a wonderful historic town. Right on the river, it is literally the end of the Oregon Trail. It has a newly rejuvenated downtown.

Las Vegas sounds like a nightmare these days. Anything I can do to encourage you, I will. I don't generally like to urge lots of people to come to Oregon (we don't want it overrun, ya know). But you sound like good people, and you really really need a break.

Feel free to PM me.

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Response to Systematic Chaos (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 03:07 AM

5. A few thoughts

First, someone else mentioned east of 82nd. That's where I live, right on the edge of "felony flats". We see the occasional car abandoned on the street and did have some garden tools that we left out stolen. otherwise, no issues. The crime rate is highly overstated, and the name is a holdover from olden days. I am reliably informed that Lake Oswego (the expensive area where the pro sports players live) has a much higher crime rate than our area. Its just that the prostitutes there have nice places and everyone turns a blind eye, rather than the ones on the street on 82nd which get cracked down on. Portland really doesn't have a "dangerous" area. It's more homogenous than anywhere else I have been. I have never once been threatened by anyone here in PDX, and have never felt unsafe in any part of the city at any time of day or night. Except during Occupy events when the police were behaving with unjustified aggression. But I dont count that.

If you want to look for information on a specific area that you are thinking of moving to here, try Portlandmaps.com. Very handy tool.

I would recommend that you attempt to stay within Multnomah County. The suggestion someone else made of Oregon City, I would not recommend. Oregon City is in Clackamas county, which has just been voting to refuse taxes and decrease funding for schools and services. Anyone making use of public assistance of any sort will have a harder time there, in my experience. I think for a cheaper option, you might look to Gresham, outer East Portland. Rents are almost always cheaper out there. You might also look at Vancouver Washington, which is kinda part of our greater metro, but also seems to be cheaper.

The cats are going to make things a challenge. I have a family member looking for housing, with 4 cats. She is finding a lot of places will take 3, but 4 seems to be a deal breaker. Or maybe its 3, and they only allow 2, I cant remember. I guess arbitrary lines have to be drawn somewhere.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 03:36 AM

6. +1

 

This is a fairly safe city.

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 05:25 AM

7. Yup.

Aside from the police, there isn't much of a cohesive safety threat in Portland. You can run into the occasional predator in any city or rural area, and Portland is no exception. But I used to leave my car unlocked when I lived 1 block off 82nd. In a year living there, my car was riffled through once, and they took change, nothing more. Never had a car broken into, never had anything stolen unless it was left unlocked or left lying out. Never had anyone offer me physical threat. Never been harassed by anyone. Never had a problem, in all my years here.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #7)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:51 PM

9. agreed

Although there is a growing gang presence, Portland does not have any urban ghetto area or areas that are considered dangerous. I have always felt safe in this city, anywhere. I have lived in D.C. and L.A., so I have some experience with crime-ridden areas.

And another bonus -- it's very very hard to get lost! The city is laid out on a grid, and you can always see Mt. Hood and/or the west hills for orientation. In outer counteis, though, all bets are off.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #9)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 04:44 PM

11. Heh.

My wife lived in some less than nice areas of LA in the past, and says the same.

They keep talking about a growing gang presence, but I have not personally seen it. There was a much more obvious gang presence in some of the smaller cities I have lived or spent significant time in. Here in PDX, I've been hearing them talk about it on the news for better than 10 years. And yet have yet to see more than a bit of graffiti.


As to getting lost.. that's true on the east side. NW and SW are their own beast, though. Get back in the hills, and unless you know where you are going, good luck to ya.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #11)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 07:11 PM

13. perhaps there is a distinction in comparisons

You are comparing Portland to other places where you saw more significant gang presence. Many Portlanders (including myself) compare current status to what it was twenty or thirty or forty years ago. In this regard, gang presence has grown.

Geez, my sister's son-in-law is a Portland Police captain. He won't allow my sister (a retired school librarian from Beaverton) to take MAX to town, for fear of personal attack. But that's silly.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #13)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 10:41 PM

14. That is really silly

Its funny, though. My dad lives outside of town, and is mildly afraid to come into Portland... because of the police. And him a law and order republican type. I find it amusing on several levels.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:41 PM

8. have you lived in Clackamas County?

I have a lot of allegiance to Portland -- I am a native Portlander and have lived there many years of my life, in NE and SE. It is a practically perfect city. For the last three years, I have lived in Clackamas County, and have been most pleasantly surprised as its attributes have been revealed. Sure, it has snooty areas and Republican areas and areas pocked with the disease of anti-taxation and anti-progressivism. But so does Multnomah County, for sure! Portland itself has notoriously underfunded its schools in recent years. And just try to get a library bond passed!

I guess the OP should read The Oregonian and Willy Week and the Trib online for a while.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #8)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 04:40 PM

10. My advice comes from

working in social services, not from personal need.

No denying that there are different pockets in each of the counties. There are plenty of republican wannabe libertarians out in Gresham. And there are plenty of wonderfully progressive liberals in Oregon city. That said Clackamas as a whole seems to come close to 50/50 in many elections, where Multnomah usually comes down more 60/40 or better.

As an example, take the primary elections we just had. Multnomah county had 90k votes for Obama, 20k for Romney. In comparison Clackamas did 28k for Obama and 21k for Romney. And I believe we successfully passed all our school bonds and whatnot. Not that we are perfect, but we tend to be more liberal as a group than most other counties in Oregon. Take Multnomah out of the mix, and I am fairly certain Oregon would be a red state, by the numbers.

Back to my advice.. Working in social services, we found that the county border was a magic line. If you were in Multnomah county and needed assistance, we could generally find some for you. If you were in Clackamas, you were out of luck unless you had friends or family who could help out.

So, my message would be if you don't need assistance to get by, then by all means, move to Clackamas county and help the balance. If you do, then Multnomah county is a better bet for you to be able to survive.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #10)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 06:57 PM

12. I defer to your informed advice.

I just know that I read consistently in Clackamas Review and other publications about available social services in communities south of Portland. Gladstone has just opened a new low-cost/free medical clinic, for example. Perhaps there is a significant difference in need for services between east and west of the Willamette. West including Lake O and West Linn. East including Gladstone and all the way out to Sandy/Barlow.

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