Liz Coll, Junior, Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center
Humboldt Neighborhood, North Portland

“My mom came out here when I was six years old. We had been kicked out of our houses and out here it was affordable. So I grew up here, I’ve lived here most of my life. This is my safe space, it’s where I know everyone. 

Everything around here started shutting down. Local stores started changing owners and dying off and getting new remodeling. Everywhere you look there’s something new. When I came back from going to Reynolds [high school] for a year, I was scared. I could not recognize my neighborhood anymore. There was new apartment complexes all up and down MLK and Killingsworth. I felt like I don’t know where I was anymore. I was completely lost in my own neighborhood. Everything you once knew isn’t there, it’s changed, it’s something else. 

“I was completely lost in my own neighborhood.”

There was a family that used to live where that apartment complex is now. Where are they now? Not in those apartments. You wonder where those families are being placed. You wonder who’s going into those apartments. Who’s buying them? Who’s living in them? I know I’m not, so who? 

They talk about how they’re improving the area but they don’t talk about helping the people that are already there. To improve the area you need to talk about the people that are already there, otherwise you’re pushing people out. 

I wish people that were coming here would sympathize and understand they are taking the place of locals, that this is where someone used to live. I don’t think they think about that, that someone else used to live there. But you have work with the locals in order to have peace in the community. You can’t just walk into someone’s house and say ‘I don’t like this couch, I’m gonna buy you a new one.’ Cause, hey, this is my house, I like my couch. So they need to work together, they need to be part of the community.”

— Interview and photo by Mischa Webley, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods