Recently I had the opportunity to sit in on a discussing panel for the documentary I had the pleasure to be involved with called “In the Shadow of Fairview”. On March 14th, a group of over 100 people gathered to watch about an hour of the documentary on Zoom and asked questions about my experience living in the institution. This has led me to recall many of the practices and experiences I endured during those times. During my stay at Fairview, I was often referred to as a ‘feeble minded’ individual and so was many others that stayed at Fairview.
Fairview had no differentiation between neuro and physical disabilities and no special supports for either of these conditions. The people that spent time in the institution were just that, people. They were people and there were people who loved them, even though they were left there. It was a world hidden from society for nearly 100 years. I was overjoyed when that place shutdown. The state was governed by John Kitzhaber when the hospital closed its doors for the last time. He even gave a formal apology regarding the eugenics practices that took place during most of the hospital’s operating years.
Every person there received vasectomies against their will. This was the only option out of there facility at the time. An article on oregonlive.com called “Erasing Fairview’s Horrors” states that residents of the hospital were referred to as inmates and we were treated as such. Every person there received vasectomies against their will. This was the only option out of there facility at the time. An article on oregonlive.com called “Erasing Fairview’s Horrors” states that residents of the hospital were referred to as inmates and we were treated as such.
My last visit to Fairview was about 8 years ago and it looked like a ghost town. Abandoned buildings, overgrowth of grass, boarded up windows and no running electricity. It looked like something out of “The Walking Dead”. There is still a plague at the campus that reads – “Oregon Home of the Feeble Minded”.
I say all this to say, I’m happy with the progress we have made in society with helping those in need. I still feel we have much further to go but hopefully going forward we’ll leave the past right where it is…. in the past. On another note, I’m am happy to be back bring my stories to you all. I apologize for the delay but more stories are coming so hold on to your seats because we will be bringing some hot topics to discuss.
Happy to be back,
Laddie Read (aka Paul Harvey Jr.)
About the Author – Laddie lived in Fairview as a boy and left when he was nineteen. He has been a part of the Community Vision family for 15 years and currently lives independently. He is a great self-advocate and involved in a number of advocacy groups.
The documentary Laddie references, “In the Shadow of Fairview” can be seen it’s entirety at the Oregon Public Radio website here.
Told by Community Vision’s Housing Access Coordinator, Tova Hershman
Nicolas Smith enrolled in the Housing Access Program in September 2021. He and his three young children had recently moved into an apartment with a roommate, but when the roommate ended up moving out unexpectedly, Nicolas was left paying the entirety of the rent on his own. With his sole income sources being social security, disability benefits, and TANF food stamps, the rent was much too expensive, and he was having trouble making ends meet each month.
Our first step at Community Vision was to help Nicolas by getting him on 15 affordable housing waitlists for apartments that he could afford. Our next step was applying to the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP), in the hope that they would be able to help cover the cost of Nicolas’s rent for a few months while he was waiting for his name to come up on a waitlist. I warned Nicolas that it was quite unlikely that he would receive the funding in time, as at that point, OERAP was thousands of applications behind and many Oregonians were being evicted prior to receiving financial assistance from the program. This was very worrisome, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t have any way of preventing that happening to Nicolas and his children. In the meantime, I tried to help Nicolas get rental/utility assistance from the county and/or other nonprofits. He did not qualify for county assistance, and because it was the end of the year, the organizations that help with utility assistance had used up their funds for the year. The situation felt very hopeless, and I was quite concerned for the future of Nicolas and his family.
Luckily, in December, Nicolas’s name came up on a waitlist for a three-bedroom apartment for $1,250 per month. The next hurdle that we addressed was the cost of the deposit, which was equal to one month’s rent. This was significantly more than Nicolas could afford, especially with the added costs of application fees, a moving truck, some second-hand furniture, etc. Typically, Community Vision has a limit of helping with a maximum of $500 per household for moving expenses. In this case, because we had tried many other avenues and Nicolas was unable to receive deposit assistance from family members, the county, or the state, we were able to make an exception and cover the cost of his deposit. Without this assistance, Nicolas and his family would not have been able to move into their new home, and would be stuck living in an apartment they were unable to afford. Finally, the day before Nicolas moved in to his new home, we received the news that his OERAP application had been approved, and that the funds had been sent to his previous landlord. This was such a relief to hear, because I was worried about Nicolas moving out of his previous apartment with debt left to pay there, but no way to pay it.
Since Nicolas moved into his new apartment on January 10th, 2022, he has texted me and called me multiple times sharing how much he loves he and his children’s new home, how much more affordable it is, and how he feels so much more financially secure and happy overall.