Right 2 Dream Too has been denied a waiver from the city for its rest area for the homeless at the corner of Northeast Burnside and Fourth Avenue and now owes the city $641 for code violations.
The group has until Jan. 16 to file a formal appeal to the citations levied by the city’s Bureau of Development Services. In December, the group sent in an administrative review request to the city to waive the fines and allow the camp to continue. It now has until Jan. 16 to file an appeal, which comes with a $1,215 appeals fee.
Ibrahim Mubarak, one of the organizers of Right 2 Dream Too, said putting fees and charges on a group of homeless people is typical America.
“We’re sleeping on a gravel lot, in tents, and they’re trying to extract that much money from us?” Mubarak said.
Instead, the group will be meeting tomorrow to consider other ways of compelling the city to allow the camp to remain on the property, for which it has a year lease. Mubarak said they want to rally supporters to appeal to the BDS, the bureau’s supervising commissioner Dan Saltzman, and Housing Commissioner Nick Fish. The city recently started a pilot project waiving enforcement against car camping on designated parking lots, and Mubarak wants the city to do the same for Right 2 Dream Too.
“We’re going to try to get them to waive the fines and try to have this be a better place where people can come and stay,” Mubarak said. “Because we don’t have that type of money.”
Right 2 Dream Too began leasing the vacant lot at the entrance to Chinatown in October, and has established a peaceful camp, or rest area, that accommodates about 70 people experiencing homelessness. The organization is in the process of becoming a non-profit, and operates with a board of directors and management rules. The site has a portable toilet and a fence constructed of doors along one side.
For all intents and purposes, the city says the organization is operating a recreational campground and is in violation of city code for not having the required permits. The organization is also in violation for the fence, which exceeds 6 feet in height. The fines will be assessed monthly for as long as the site is in violation of city code.
In his response letter to Right 2 Dream Too, Mike Liefeld, section manager with the BDS, said permits are possible, and suggested the city was willing to work with the group if it wants to either bring the operation into compliance, or pursue channels into housing for people using the site.
“It is possible to pursue legalizing the operation by obtaining the required permits for this type of development,” Liefeld writes. “If you are able to obtain issued permits for the Recreational Park-Campground development and receive final inspection approvals by April 10, 2012 (which is six months from the date the Bureau originally contacted Right 2 Dream Too representatives regarding the campground), the Bureau will consider reducing the amount of the monthly code enforcement fee assessments. I would also encourage you to contact the Portland Housing Bureau to further explore other housing options and alternatives that relate to issues raised in your Dec. 20, 2011 appeal letter.”
Mubarak said relocating the camp isn’t on the table at this time.
“It’s going to be raining soon, and moving people in the rain and the cold — it’s the wrong time. Unless they have some place for us to go.”