Oct. 10 will be the one-year anniversary of Right 2 Dream Too, and members of the homeless rest stop are celebrating by signing a second one-year lease with the property owners.
They’re also firming up their expectations of City Hall to suspend its fine process and declare R2DToo’s site at Fourth Avenue and Burnside a legal transitional housing campground area as allowed under state law.
In a letter to the city dated Aug. 31, R2DToo’s attorney, Mark Kramer, says that if the city refuses to suspend monthly fine assessments against the nonprofit, he will seek a judge’s decision to void the regulatory process in this case. The letter was addressed to City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, head of the Bureau of Development Services that overseas the regulatory process, and Commissioner Nick Fish, who heads up the city’s homeless and housing programs.
“The regulations they’re using is intended for boy scout camps and KOA campgrounds, but not shelters for homeless folks,” Kramer told Street Roots.
R2DToo rents the lot at Fourth and Burnside for $1 from owners Michael Wright and Dan Cossette. The organization’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Mubarak, said the owners are supportive of their cause, but should not be burdened with the city’s fines that exceed $1,200 a month. The organization has raised its own money to help cover some, but not all, of the costs levied against the property owners.
“They want to fine us out of existence,” Mubarak says. “They know we don’t have much money and depend on grants and donations.”
R2DToo claim their site — where about 80 homeless men and women stay each night — qualifies as a transitional housing area as allowed under state law. State statute permits a city to create two such sites, on property it selects. Portland has already sanctioned one such campground with Dignity Village.
Commissioner Saltzman’s office has said he is open to considering a second sanctioned operation, but not on the site now occupied by R2DToo.
The R2DToo rally on Oct. 10 begins at 8:30 and will culminate in the signing of the new lease. The cost, like the previous year, will be $1.
Housing Commissioner Nick Fish said he hopes R2DToo is willing to consider a variety of options, including being designated a transitional housing campground. He said the checklist to make that happen has been sent to the attorney, and require City Council and Oregon Health Authority approval.
“Authorizing a new transitional housing campground is a question the full Council would have to weigh in on,” Fish said. “My support depends on the particular proposal.”
Read more coverage about Right 2 Dream Too here.