Tag Archives: Nick Fish

Right 2 Dream Too files suit against city

A rendering of Right 2 Dream Too created by a local architecture firm

A rendering of Right 2 Dream Too created by a local architecture firm

Right 2 Dream Too, which has operated a weigh station for the homeless for more than a year, filed a suit against the city of Portland today. The filing came as R2DToo members rallied with supporters outside City Hall.

The lawsuit, which also names Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Bureau of Development Services Director Paul Scarlett, disputes the city’s assessment of Right 2 Dreams Too’s operation at Fourth Avenue and Burnside and the validity of subsequent fines. Saltzman’s office oversees the Bureau of Development Services, which ruled on Right 2 Dream Too’s status last year.

“It is our hope that the lawsuit is a motivator to get responsible people to sit down and negotiate,” says Mark Kramer, the attorney representing R2DToo. Kramer is donating his work as a member of the National Lawyers Guild.

Read the complete R2DToo lawsuit.

The city claims the nonprofit is operating a “recreational park” campground on the lot, and as such is subject to city ordinance requirements. Right 2 Dream Too, however, says the site is not a campground at all, but rather a transitional housing accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, as allowed under state statute. Oregon law allows for two such sites, the first being Dignity Village in Northeast Portland.

The lawsuit also seeks relief from the $5,349 in fees, along with the interest and penalties that have mounted since  the BDS began assessing them early this year.

Kramer said he and his clients sat down twice with Saltzman and Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the cities housing and homeless programs, to find a solution to the impasse.

“It was cordial and friendly, but they were unbending and ultimately unresponsive,” Kramer says. Kramer added that the members of R2DToo have been looking for another site, but they need the city’s help to negotiate something appropriate, and they have not received any. “It’s like assigning to David a Goliath task.”

Kramer said the process of the lawsuit could take several months, during which time R2DToo will likely remain on site, despite efforts by one local developer to rev up the complaint process and have the camp removed to appease investors.

You can read about the rally today on Street Roots Twitter.

Breaking: Developer pushes for change at Right 2 Dream Too


By Staff Reports

A Portland developer is saying the homeless rest area at Fourth and Burnside is jeopardizing the financial stability of the long-awaited renovation of the Grove Hotel.

In a strongly worded letter to the Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association, Grove Hostel developer David Gold is urging the community to take advantage of the “complaint driven” process and urge the city to resolve the siting concerns of Right 2 Dream Too. The camp, which shelters between 60 and 80 homeless people each night, has been sited at Fourth Avenue and Burnside Street for more than a year. Continue reading

Housing veterans, local numbers fall short

By Robert Britt, Staff Writer

When Army veteran Mark Townsend left the military service in the early ’70s, a decades-long battle with substance abuse and homelessness was just beginning.

Addiction marred Townsend’s transition to civilian life and reduced him to living what he calls a “life of drinking and using.” That life led to legal troubles, mental health issues and a lack of stable housing.

Townsend, now 54, says he repeatedly tried to get help. “I’ve been in and out of the VA several times, trying to get clean and sober, and couldn’t.”

Last August, he entered a residential substance abuse treatment program and was soon told of a federal program that could get him into subsidized housing while providing counseling and treatment for his addiction.

The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (VASH) is a two-pronged approach to reduce homelessness among veterans. It couples government-subsidized rental vouchers from local, public housing authorities with case-managed assistance and clinical care provided by VA medical centers. When created, the program tasked a VA system already strained from the rising number of returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — with the new responsibility of managing a supportive housing program. Continue reading

Right 2 Dream Too deserves city leadership

By Israel Bayer

The city should find a way to offer Right 2 Dream Too land to relocate the tent city currently occupying Southwest Fourth and Burnside. The argument that people shouldn’t be living in tents as an alternative to housing doesn’t hold a whole lot of weight when thousands of people are living in unfair conditions under bridges and in doorways every night.

Like Dignity Village, Right 2 Dream Too is an asset to the community. Both groups have found a way to work peer-to-peer with some of the hardest brothers and sisters on the streets, giving people the hope and discipline to have something stable in their lives.

The city subsidizes operating costs for many different groups that work with people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Right 2 Dream Too should not be considered any different. The group has proven to the community that they are organized and have what it takes to create a safe and stable environment for people on the streets.

Right now, the city and Right 2 Dream Too are at loggerheads. The camp is caught in a bitter dispute between the property owner at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Burnside and the city, ultimately leaving the fate of the camp in the hands of Commissioner Dan Saltzman and the Bureau of Development Services.

Commissioner Nick Fish and the Portland Housing Bureau should step in. If Right 2 Dream Too is going to be successful, it’s going to be the leadership of the Portland Housing Bureau that makes it happen.

Right 2 Dream Too has the support of local foundations, organizations such as Street Roots, and many other community members. It’s time for the city to support the group.

In a time of great need, when housing for people experiencing homelessness continues to be one of the biggest challenges in our community, we’re looking to both Right 2 Dream Too and the City of Portland to find a way to do the right thing.

‘Domicile unknown’

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

Laurie Crow would have been 54 on Dec. 27, 2011.

Instead, she became one of 47.

Only a few weeks before her birthday, she died curled up in her sleeping bag in a meadow near Going Street. Her partner, Clarence, was next to her, awake and listening as she slept through daybreak.

What he was hearing, in fact, was her body cooling in the December chill. It was Dec. 7.

The other 46 were also homeless, and all died on the streets of Portland in 2011.

Fourty-seven: Nearly 1 a week. Continue reading

Street Roots, Multnomah County release homeless deaths report

This morning, Multnomah County released a new report, co-authored by Street Roots on the number of homeless people who died on the streets last year. The county medical examiner’s office counted 47 men and women died literally on the streets in 2011, and that counts only those who fall within it jurisdiction. The Multnomah County Health Department considers it a subset of people who die homeless, and doesn’t count people who were under medical care at the time of their death, for example.

“This is not what a strong, healthy community looks like,” Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury told reporters at a press conference in the county offices this morning. Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer and City Commissioner Nick Fish also spoke on the report. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

What an exciting time to be a Portlander! Spring is in full stride, election buzz is in the air, and the new Street Roots arrives tomorrow morning! Don’t forget to tuck a buck in your purse, wallet or back pocket to trade for the finest news source in town, delivered by the friendliest vendors in the city. Here’s what’s rolling on the press now:

‘Domicile unknown:”  Multnomah County releases its first report on how many homeless people died on our streets last year. The report is proudly co-authored by Street Roots, which lead the campaign to better understand the toll taken by homelessness.

Portland Children’s Levy first budget reductions cut deep: With property tax revenues in decline, the Portland Children’s Levy was forced to make drastic reductions to programs that benefit low-income children in minority populations.

Just one more question!: Candidates for mayor, city council give their final answers on what they will do to improve the state of homelessness and housing in Portland.

Beat of a gypsy Hart: An interview with former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart in advance of his performance here in Portland, which will feature, of course, the universe.

Plus much much more, including commentaries by Janice Thompson of Common Cause on the money behind the mayor’s race, and from Gay and Grey on growing old gracefully in the queer community. And you’ll want to check out the poetry and prose of students at the Native American Youth and Family Center’s Language Arts Class, part of NAYA’s Early College Academy. And we’d love to hear from you, too. So let us know what you think by visiting our website, www.streetroots.org. and send in your letters and thoughts. Thank you for your support!


Nick Fish delivers the state of housing, a Portland story

By Nick Fish, Contributing Columnist

This week I presented my fourth housing budget to the City Council. It is a good time to reflect on the progress we have made together, the challenges we face, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Building a New House

I ran for City Council on a platform of changing the way we deliver affordable housing to struggling families, the homeless, and the disabled. I pledged to work with government, nonprofit, business, and faith community partners to build a new house, not just renovate the old one.

In 2010, Mayor Adams and I delivered on that promise by officially launching a new bureau — the Portland Housing Bureau. We combined all the city’s housing programs and funding sources under one roof. Why? Because the old house was divided, and we needed a new, sharper focus on the needs of the growing number of people who cannot afford to live in Portland. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

It’s going to be a great weekend, the weatherman says, with a 100 percent chance of Street Roots coming to a neighborhood near you. Pick up your copy tomorrow morning and share a sunny smile with your friendly vendor. Here’s what’s rolling on the presses now:

Shocked and reloaded: And interview with ’80s icon Michelle Shocked who returns to the stage in Portland this month, sharing with her style of folk with fans, old and new.

Life after war: Photographer Jim Lommasson’s “Exit Wounds” documents the stories, heartbreak and hopes of American veterans returning home from war. His collection of photographs is coupled with his current speaking tour, and is soon to be the subject of a new book.

Making right from wrong: An interview with Fariborz Pakseresht who takes the helm of the Oregon Youth Authority, overseeing the state’s troubled and incarcerated youths.

Write makes might: Davonna Livingston uses writing to help victims of abuse and trauma not only tell their stories, but take back their lives.

The State of Housing: City Commissioner Nick Fish lays out the nuts and bolts of the state of Portland’s housing agenda.

Plus, new commentaries by Melissa Favara, Robin Hahnel and the Partnership for Safety and Justice. And a look at the cash mob movement in St. Johns. This issue is packed! Thank you, and enjoy a beautiful weekend!

Portland safety net swings in balance of city budget talks

City’s housing and homeless services play the competitive waiting game for coveted one-time appropriations

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

Looking at the housing and homeless landscape these days, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish paints a pretty grim picture.

“It’s a rising tide of need with declining resources. That’s it in a nutshell,” says Fish, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau. “We’ve got more adults and families facing homelessness, more families being priced out of the housing market. We’ve got historic vacancy rates. Unemployment is still very high. We’re now catching the foreclosure fever. We’re still in a deep recession, and we have fewer resources to meet the need. It’s a perfect storm.”

This from a self-proclaimed glass-half-full kind of guy.

That internal optimism will be needed as the city slogs forward in its 2012-13 budget “cutting” process, with all bureaus asked by Mayor Sam Adams to submit reduction proposals of 4, 6 and 8 percent. In addition to the bureau packages, the mayor has to decide how the shrunken pool of one-time money — funding allocated in each cycle by the mayor — is divvied up. Last year, that was a pool of about $23 million. This year it’s projected at about $11 million.

Of that, Fish’s Portland Housing Bureau is asking for nearly $4.8 million to pay for the city’s social safety net: short-term rent assistance, shelter and emergency services, housing access and homeownership programs, and the Bud Clark Commons. It’s not new money, but it is subject to the mayor and council’s approval, each with their own bureau budgets in play. The police bureau alone is asking for $5.4 million in one-time funding. The mayor is expected to come out with his budget in early May. Continue reading

City opens up overnight camping option for select sites

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

For years, Portland’s anti-camping ordinance has been the target of countless demonstrations by the homeless and their supporters.

They have marched, protested and held vigils at City Hall against the city’s policy that makes camping illegal on public property or on unpermitted private land, which they say effectively criminalizes the thousands of people in this city without homes. Continue reading

Best quotes from Street Roots interviews in 2011

“I don’t think we’re in the buggy whip business just yet. But I sometimes wonder if we’re going to be the last. I’m not nostalgic, but I enjoy, and still think most people do, the printed book. It’s a question of how much you have to accommodate the new technologies and how much you continue to make what you do important to people.”

— Michael Powell, former owner of Powell’s City of Books, on reading and books, Jan. 20

“The plans that are now called Cadillac health plans are what we used to call adequate health plans. There’s been a trend in this country over and over, to blame segments of the population for our health care costs rising out of control. And the truth is that the blame lies in the fact that we don’t have a health system. We don’t allocate our health resources or make decisions in a rational way, based on what the needs are and what our resources are. Instead we have this for-profit industry all trying to eat from our health-care pie.”

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Physicians for National Health Program, doctor, activist, on the health-care system and reform, Feb. 4

“The reality is, to be successful on the housing front, locally and at the state level, we need a big coalition. Part of this is about the confidence and maturity of a movement, and its willingness to build a big tent.”

— Nick Fish, Portland City Commissioner, on resource development for housing and homeless services, March 4 Continue reading

City weighs affordable housing funds in urban renewal areas

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

It’s been six years since Portland voted to dedicate 30 percent of the city’s urban renewal funds toward affordable housing. It was a controversial decision at a time when the city’s housing concerns were divided between City Council and the Portland Development Commission, with business, neighborhood and affordable housing interests each weighing in on how the money should be divvied up.

Since its creation in 2006, the policy has generated more than $152 million for housing affordable to low-income and workforce residents, accounting for one-third of tax increment financing expenditures in the city’s nine neighborhood urban renewal areas, or URAs. The money has helped fund the Bud Clark Commons, veterans housing in the South Waterfront district, the Blanchet House reconstruction, and preservation efforts in existing low-income housing buildings. Continue reading

Parks bureau to create new rangers to patrol public parks


Portland Parks and Recreation’s contract for downtown security services is coming up for renewal. And with the season’s change is in the air.

Currently, a subsidiary of the Portland Business Alliance holds the $530,000 contract with the parks bureau for downtown security services. The PBA then contracts through the private security firm, Portland Patrol Inc., or PPI, for actual patrols.

Under this arrangement, 38 armed and 22 unarmed PPI guards patrol Portland’s Business Improvement District, 213 square blocks of downtown. Guards in the district operate between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends in the district. PPI guards also patrol 12 parks in the downtown as well as the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade as part of the current contract with the parks bureau. Continue reading

Portland gets funding for people living with HIV/AIDS on the skids

Back in March Street Roots reported on people experiencing homelessness with HIV/AIDS with the story Positive in poverty. In 2010, we also reported on the HIV/AIDS community losing funding through budget cuts.

Today the city announced that the Portland Housing Bureau will receive $1.365 million dollars in new funding. The press release from the Portland Housing Bureau gives details. Continue reading