People in Portland Oregon have started living in boats.  Not those fancy barge-borne mansions, but rather old cabin-cruisers with worn-out motors.  Basically it's like living in an old car, except that the car floats.

      Image 1: Old boats used as residence, Portland, OR 10/20/2012
Image 1 is looking west across the Willamette River.  A raft of three boats is visible; this raft has been in this position for at least five days on 10/20/2012 and probably much longer.  A third boat was added to the raft sometime after 10/16/2012.

      Image 2: Old yacht used as residence, Portland, OR 10/16/2012
Image 2, taken 10/16/2012, also looks west across the Willamette River.  The Marquam Bridge, which carries the I-5 freeway across the river, is the ugly structure on the left.  The home shown here consists of an old dock, a very likely non-functioning powerboat about 30 feet long, and several smaller boats.  The homeowner uses a bicycle for land transportation, and transports the bicycle to and from the residence in a small rowboat.  

On the west side of the river, you can see, just to the south of the Marquam bridge, the (somewhat) new Portland Aerial Tram, a $57 million boondoggle (cost overrun = 4x original budget).  A structure under construction, part of the South Waterfront urban renewal district.

      Image 3: Bicycle belonging to boat-dweller, with additional raft of old
    boats used as residence, Portland, OR 10/20/2012

By 10/20/2012, the boat and dock shown in Image 3 had been moved downstream, north of the Hawthorne Bridge.  

Image 3 shows what I took to be the bicycle belonging to the homeowner.  Out in the river can be seen another raft of boats, again this is used as a residence.

      Image 4:  Boat raft including sailboat, used as residence, Portland,
     OR 10/20/2012

Image 4 is a closer view of the boat raft shown in the middle distance in image 3.

Don't be fooled by the picture, the boat is actually quite small.  

The sailboat here appears to be a Clipper Marine 26, a lightly-built trailerable sailboat, which had a large "pop-top" hatch to permit at least some headroom in the cabin.  You can see the pop-top raised in Image 4 underneath the plastic tarp rigged over the boom.  In good condition these types of boats have been listed for $3,500 OBO in the NW.  

Local media picked up the story (briefly) about a year ago (KGW:

Authorities said they started appearing about two years ago, likely because of the economy.
"The numbers have tripled or quadrupled," Elliot said, "They have arrived and have little intention or ability to go anywhere else."
Most of them don't have working engines anymore and none of them are actually used for marine recreation. Patrol officers said the owners either find abandoned boats or buy some on the cheap, and then move aboard without ever having to pay rent as long as they keep floating in the river.
Nationwide, the abandonment of old boats, both pleasure and commercial, has been a significant problem since the economy crashed in 2008.  From KATU (11/13/2008):
"Boating is a pure luxury and one of the first things to go when the economy turns south," said Cruger-Hansen, who expects to see more abandoned boats by year's end. "If it comes to the point of putting food on the table or paying the boat slip fee, it's the boat that goes."

Unlike cars, wooden and fiberglass boats have virtually no scrap value. So rather than pay the high cost of hauling their boats to the dump, people ditch them or sell them for as little as $1 to anyone who will take them. The boats often break up and go under, or pass into the underground economy of nighttime scuttlers- who, for a fee, remove traceable identification numbers, strip out salvageable items and sink the vessels.

      Image 6: The Carruthers Bridge under construction, Portland, OR 10/20/12
Meanwhile, and not far away, great public works are under construction.  

Image 6 shows the Caruthers Bridge, the first bridge built over the Willamette River in 30 years.  It will carry light rail, streetcar, bus, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic only.  The extensive light rail approach ramps are also under construction on the west side of the river.  

      Image 7: Hooverville, Portland, OR, July 1936.
Image 7 shows a Hooverview in Portland, Oregon in July 1936.  

It is almost at the exact spot of the temporary bridge shown in Image 6 for the Carruthers bridge construction, which is of course well within the sight of Portland's burgeoning 2012 maritime Hooverville.

      Image 8: Fencing prevents rich and poor alike from sleeping under
      the Hawthorne Bridge, Portland, OR 10/20/12.

The great author Anatole France (1844-1924) famously said:
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
And in Portland, we see this magnificent equality in full function.  

Image 8 is taken under the Hawthorne bridge, where a chainlink fence bars rich and poor alike from sleeping thereunder.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 07:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by Koscadia, PDX Metro, and Community Spotlight.


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