Local KATU-TV news contacted Northwest Housing Alternatives for comment and they responded that Batts had lived in the housing complex since 2007, but had undergone a “change” as of late. They also asserted that “there were a variety of lease violations that were either damage of property or late payments, also incidents against staff and other tenants.” The organization’s Executive Director, Martha McLennan, told the Williamette Week that they had tried to help Batts before she was evicted. “We hate these sorts of situations,” McLennan says. “But unfortunately, when someone decline services, there’s not much you can do. And I can say there were dozens of attempts to help.” The Oregonian also reported that Batts had long struggled to maintain a permanent residence and had previously been evicted from another affordable housing building in 1996.
Whether or not her landlords attempted to help her before kicking her out on the street, Batt’s death was completely preventable. The homeless, arguably the most marginalized and voiceless group in the United States, are consistently ignored by city governments, many of which have criminalized the very act of being homeless. Not only that but other city governments, in order to further reduce the visibility of the homeless and push them further to the sidelines, have also criminalized offering food to the homeless in public as well as other types of aid. The unfortunate and tragic fate of Karen Batts is indicative of, not a local problem, but a national one as all levels of government – along with many everyday Americans – would prefer to throw the homeless out with the garbage instead of recognizing them as human beings with inherent rights.
(from True Activist)