Portland Suffers Population Loss Amid Crime, Homelessness Wave

Portland, Oregon suffered a significant population contraction over the last several years. The city has emerged as one of the nation’s most left-leaning, and many conservatives argue that its policies have led to a significant increase in both crime and homelessness.

Among the nation’s largest cities, Portland was the sixth-leading municipality in terms of population loss between 2021 and 2022. The decline in residents was also reflected in an overall population loss for Oregon during the same period.

For decades, Portland represented one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. However, data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the city lost nearly 20,000 residents between July 2020 and July 2022.

The city has suffered a sharp increase in crime, with the overall number of homicides almost tripling between 2019 and 2022. 

Portland’s 101 murders in 2022 represented the highest number of killings in the city’s history. The Oregon city also suffered a more than tripling of shootings, registering more than 1,300 in 2022.

The city has also seen a significant increase in property crime, with burglaries increasing by 20% last year alone. In the period between November 2021 and November 2022, the city suffered almost 6,500 burglaries. 

The Portland Police Bureau also reported serious staffing shortages.

In 2020, the city agreed to significant cuts to its law enforcement budget as part of the wider ‘defund the police’ movement. However, one year into the program, Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) called for a significant increase in the city’s police spending.

“Many Portlanders no longer feel safe in their city,” he said at the time. “Business owners have closed up shop, for fear of doing business in high-risk areas. Commuters fear for their safety, whether taking public transport or going by foot. Parents are scared to let their children play outside.”

The city also suffers from one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation. Portland saw an increase in its homeless population of about 20% between 2022 and 2023.