Five-part series by KATU on mental illness gets it – in 1982

KATU investigative reporter Randy Ripplinger dives into Portland’s “skid road” in 1982 for “Staying Alive.” Eventually organizations like Central City Concern and Northwest Pilot Project rebuilt, for the most part, single room housing in Portland’s downtown for those with mental illness and addiction. This five-part, weeklong series is incorporated into one sequence in the video above.

There still are three privately-owned hotels in downtown Portland which, in collusion with the state, county and private agencies, put fragile people with mental illness in peril. They are the Westwind on SW 4th and Flanders, identified in by KATU in 1982 as the Arlington; the Home Hotel on SW 3rd and Ankeny over Voodoo Doughnuts, and the Steward Hotel on Ankeny and Broadway over Mary’s strip club. All three are managed by the same person – Mike Narver. The Athens Hotel was leased by the City in 1987 and without remodeling rooms were let free to the homeless. Later Central City Concern bought the property, in collaboration converted it to an alcohol and drug free community with the Housing Authority of Portland, and named it after Sally McCracken, widow of Timber baron Paul McCracken. The Biltmore Hotel was managed, as it was in 1982 by the Housing Authority until 2010 when management by Central City Concern started. The Bridgeport Hotel condemned and demolished by the City soon after Ripplinger’s series aired.

City leases Athens Hotel to house the homeless, December 4, 1987