Tag Archives: Right 2 Dream Too

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.

Developer David Gold responds to complaint process campaign against homeless camp’s ‘land use issue’

David Gold, one of the Portland developers behind the Grove Hostel project on Burnside, responds to Street Roots regarding the latest push to dissolve the Right 2 Dream Too encampment across the street from the project:

“I am deeply concerned about the plight of those without housing in Portland. I don’t pretend to have the “answer” on how to end homelessness, but I do not think that illegal campgrounds are the answer. Social service agencies, residents, property owners, and business owners have historically worked together in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood. The violation of building codes, zoning laws, and design review requirements at this site threatens that fragile relationship and jeopardizes future projects that will require community consensus.

Also, to clarify, it was the Mayor and Commissioner Saltzman’s offices that suggested a complaint campaign to pressure the City to find a long term solution.”

S.R.: Have you been given basically an ultimatum, that if R2DToo is there, the investors will not invest?

“It is really a very simple concept: if we cannot rent the space across from the camp, we cannot pay our loan payments. Real estate brokers have advised us that no restaurateur will lease the space and invest the necessary funds on improvements and equipment with the illegal camp across the street.”
S.R.: If they don’t, what does that mean for project, and the money already invested, including the PDC?

“If the project will not have sufficient funds to make its loan payments, it would be irresponsible to move forward.  The investors and PDC would lose all the funds already invested, as well as the thousands of hours a multitude of people have invested over the past few years. But more importantly, the neighborhood will lose an incredible opportunity for a new, innovative business that would improve a full block of West Burnside and bring jobs, customers, and daytime street activation to the neighborhood. The Grove represents a larger vision for the neighborhood that will be lost if it does not come to fruition.”

Homelessness is a community issue that must be solved at the public policy level by the City. The Mayor and City Council need to show the leadership to humanely and equitably resolve the current situation.”

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

From Land Ho to Right 2 Dream Too, a look back from one year on

By Leo Rhodes

Checking my e-mails and working on some of my project in the Street Roots office, I was interrupted by an excited vendor. He asked if I had seen an article in The Portland Tribune.

His eyes lit up as he explained that a man wanted to start a tent city, and that I should read the article. I told him I would. The next day the same guy asked if I read the article. “I forgot all about it,” I told him. Then I told him, “I’ll read it tonight after I finish all my work.” This went on a few more times. I kept forgetting to read the article. He finally brought in the article and placed it in front of me and said, “Here read it.” So I read it. Then he said, “See, he wants to start a tent city.” I looked at him and said, “Not really. He just wants to work with the homeless to use his land. He replied, “To start a tent city. You should jump on this before someone else does.” Continue reading

Right 2 Dream Too to sign new lease, threatens suit against city

Staff reports

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. Continue reading

Beyond the controversy, the promise of R2DToo lives on

Portland State University and Street Roots partner each semester to produce a Capstone class for PSU students. This year, one of the projects was a visit to the Right 2 Dream Too rest area for the homeless in Downtown Portland. Here is the students’ reflection on the people they met there.

A scene from R2D2: A man reaches out to help a friend carry her things to the train station en route to Santa Cruz, Calif., while a small group of friends gather outside the rest area to say their goodbyes. Photo by Amanda Smith

By Tracy Apple, Amanda Smith and Lindsay Stromquist
Contributing Writers

In the background at Right 2 Dream Too, the sound of busy West Burnside traffic is hard not to notice. But so are the sounds of laughter, people talking, a resident’s dog barking at a skateboarder passing by. Here, on the corner lot of Northwest Fourth Avenue and Burnside, lives a mother, a chef, and a jack-of-all-trades.

Known as a rest area for people experiencing homelessness, R2DToo serves as an overnight shelter for between 40 to 60 people on any given night. It also serves as a temporary home to an additional 30 residents, each with their own backgrounds, outlooks, and aspirations. It began in October to become a safe place for people to rest and to dream at no cost to taxpayers; a place where people are not judged by their past or their problems, rather by what they do now to better themselves and those around them. As co-founder Ibrahim Mubarak puts it, “failure is not a sin. But low aim is.”

Because of code violations, the city has been fining the property owners, who lease the site to R2DToo, more than $1,200 a month. And while that’s attracted the local news, the real story isn’t in the codes. It’s in the people.

The Mother
Estranged from her family at an early age, Mama Chewy has been living on the streets off and on for the better part of the past decade.

With a sleeveless button up blouse and chipped purple nail polish on her fingernails, Mama is a large and jovial woman. She recalls the first time she heard about Right 2 Dream Too. It was on the local news she saw while at a shelter. It was a godsend. After sleeping in a doorway near the Skidmore Fountain Building at Southwest First Avenue and Ankeny, Mama and her fiancé made a beeline for the area. There, they found somewhere not only to sleep safely, but in the comfort of one another’s arms.

“None of this was here back then. We started out with nothing.” Mama Chewy sits contemplatively for a moment, eyes gazing out over the neatly arranged tents divided into groups by well-groomed gravel walkways. Though the rest area is now a neatly organized community, Mama recalls her first night at R2DToo as vividly as if it were yesterday, sitting atop her suitcase waiting impatiently for her fiancé to show up with their tent, drenched in the rain falling upon the empty gravel lot.

Since coming here in the midst of its inception, Mama Chewy says she now has some hope for her future. She is proud to proud to claim nine months of sobriety. And although her health problems prevent her from working, she is now on a waiting list for four different housing prospects. Now, having R2DToo as a home base, she has no trouble meeting regularly with her caseworker to sort out her post traumatic stress disorder. Thinking about her future, Mama Chewy says, “While I appreciate Right 2 Dream Too, I want more. I want my own kitchen, my own bedroom, my own bathroom. My own rules.”

It’s been over 30 years since she has seen her own mother. At 45, has six children of her own. Although she gave up her parental rights years ago, she still yearns to be reunited with them, hoping they will find her when they come of age. The support of R2D2 helps keep her sober, she says, and she is working her way to permanent housing. A home in which her children might someday come to visit is no longer out of reach.

The Chef
Small in both stature and ferocity, a young black and white pit bull by the name of Paige can often be found lounging in one of the plastic chairs at the entrance to the R2DToo rest area, leash dangling from her collar. Although her owner, Marty Monahan, has shaved in the last two days, flecks of salt and pepper stubble are starting to show. Dressed in an oversized flannel shirt and worn black work boots, the many silver rings on his fingers reflect the light of the midday sun. A licensed appraiser, Monahan, 44, had worked in his mother’s antiques shop. When the business went under, it was only a matter of months until he blew through his savings, landing himself on the streets just one month before he came to the rest area. He has been at R2DToo since its inception on World Action Homeless Day.

Before experiencing homelessness first hand, Monahan is quick to admit, “I used to be one of those people, you know, driving by and pointing at all those dirty people with their dirty signs.”

These days, Monahan is using R2DToo as a place where he can take some time to find out who he is, and what he wants to do next. But for now he is focusing on helping others in his situation stay safe and well fed.

In addition to being one of several organizers at Right 2 Dream Too, Monahan also serves as R2DToo’s resident chef. Although the makeshift kitchen is open to anyone that can use a hotplate, many prefer the artistry of Monahan’s cuisine. He draws upon more than 15 years of professional culinary experience to create dishes from whatever miscellaneous foods may be in stock.

Whether making pasta, soup, or a simple sandwich, ingredients are at the whim of a donations stockpile built on the kindness of others: friends, neighbors, inspired passersby. Not only is Monahan willing to cook for those within the rest area, he often prepares food for those even less fortunate than himself. Making rounds throughout the neighborhood – past doorways and under bridges – Monahan aims to fill the bellies of anyone in need.

It is also up to Monahan to provide refreshments every Tuesday night at 8 o’clock for family movie night. These nights the smell of buttered popcorn competes with the aroma of roast duck from Chen’s Good Taste next door. With a scavenged television set, an extension cord, and a few rows of folding chairs, the residents settle in at the end of their day to watch movies checked out from the Multnomah County Library.

The Jack-of-all-Trades
Every night, Mark Hubbell reads in his tent by the light of a dim Dollar Store flashlight. “It’s all I have,” says Hubbell, 51, who sports a keenly shaved head. A hint of red in his bushy grey mustache reveals the hair color of his youth. Before coming to R2DToo two and a half months ago, Hubbell was living under the Burnside Bridge. While the flashlight may be one of his few material possessions, R2DToo has given Hubbell something more valuable than worldly goods: an interim refuge from which to center himself.

Rising between 8 and 9 a.m. every day, Hubbell works hard to help maintain the way of life the residents have made for themselves. Drawing on an array of skills picked up from previous jobs that include everything from maintenance and landscaping to firefighting and cooking, Hubbell can be found doing anything from repairing overnight tents to patrolling the outlying area. While on patrol duty, it is up to Hubbell to clear the surrounding sidewalks of litter, paint over graffiti, and notify anyone he might find sleeping out that there is safe refuge nearby. After fulfilling his obligations at the rest area, Hubbell is free to do what he chooses. And Hubbell is choosing to get off the streets.

“If you don’t have to worry about where to lay your head at night, it makes all the difference in the world.” Back when Hubbell was spending nights under the bridge, he was beaten and robbed by several men. With the exhausting threat of violence on the streets lifted, Hubbell is able to focus on working with Central City Concern and Transition Projects. to get his resume in order while scouting the Internet for work at the Multnomah County Library. For Hubbell, finding work is the most important thing at the moment.

He is grateful for R2DToo, that it gives him a solid foundation. After he finds work, Hubbell hopes to stay at the rest area just long enough to save some money, ensuring his ability to maintain housing when he finally reaches that stage. With two daughters in their 20s, Hubbell hopes to be with them in Arizona within the year.

Right 2 Dream Too: They’re doing the right thing, now let them succeed

SR editorial:

What happens when a group of 50 homeless people get together and create a safe place to call home? The verdict is still out.

In a time when Street Roots can’t buy a positive story about homeless and housing policy, and local and national leaders continue to communicate bad news on the budget front, Right 2 Dream Too is breaking the mold by providing a refuge for people on the streets.

We could talk about the state and federal governments’ lack of support for housing and human services. We could concentrate on the hypocricies of the city and other groups who stand on the sidelines, shoulders shrugged. We could call out any number of neighborhood and business groups who patronize Right 2 Dream Too as well intentioned, but fall back on the argument that it’s not the solution, and request that the group be removed from the neighborhood.  But none of this gets us anywhere, and has all been said before. Continue reading

Right 2 Dream Too denied waiver by city

by Joanne Zuhl, staff writer

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. Continue reading

Making a dream reality: Right 2 Dream Too’s success flies in the face of skeptics

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

by Joanne Zuhl, staff writer (Photos by Israel Bayer)

It was supposed to be about the city’s new plan to allow limited car camping for people experiencing homelessness. But testimony at Wednesday’s City Council meeting became an extended appeal for another camping option, one that’s been, almost unanimously, highly successful for nearly three months.

During more than an hour of testimony, a series of people — many homeless — testified in defense of Right 2 Dream Too, a structured camp at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Burnside that is home to about 70 people experiencing homelessness. Continue reading

SR editorial: Right 2 Dream Too validates its role to the streets

The Right 2 Dream Too overnight sleeping area on Fourth Avenue and Burnside deserves to be taken seriously. Specifically, city officials, nonprofits and institutions that champion housing should practice what they preach and find a way to work with the group of 50-plus people on the streets doing everything in their power to help themselves.

Each night, more than 1,700 individuals sleep in the cold on Portland’s streets. In response, Housing Commissioner Nick Fish led an effort along with local churches and the county to offer car camping and overnight sleeping to a small group of people in church parking lots. City Hall and the faith-based community should be commended for their efforts. Looking outside the box for short-term solutions while individuals and families wait to secure housing is a positive step in the evolution of working with thousands of people on the skids. Continue reading

Right 2 Dream Too ask for hardship waiver against looming penalties for Fourth and Burnside camp

Members of Right 2 Dream Too at a recent meeting to discuss their appeal with the city.

Right 2 Dream Too is appealing to the city to waive penalties against its camp at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Burnside while it works to address code violations issued by the Bureau of Development Services.

Right 2 Dream Too, which has operated an orderly camp at the entrance to Chinatown for more than two months, submitted its appeal to the BDS today. The group was cited in November for establishing an unpermitted recreational park-campground and for having a fence greater than six feet in height, also without a permit.

The document is as much a statement on the condition of homelessness in Portland today as it is an argument against the pending penalties, which could amount to nearly $600 a month.

“We’re trying to cooperate to the extent that we can,” says Michael Moore, one of the site’s organizers. “It’s not like an official waiver. The Director of Planning has the ability to (waive penalties) in special circumstances and we’re making the case that these circumstances warrant these consideration.”

In its appeal, the group says it believes the code being applied is overbroad, and that their site isn’t a “recreational” camp at all, but a facility for sheltering people who are homeless. The group says it is willing to work with the city to begin the permitting process on bringing the fence under code or finding a variance.

Unlike other tent cities of years past, Right 2 Dream Too has signed a one-year lease with the owners of the property at Fourth and Burnside, and since early October, the site has been home to approximately 70 people living in tents, supplied with a portable toilet and water, and bordered by a fence constructed of used doors.

“The extent and severity of the economic crisis that has led to a severe shortage of affordable housing and shelter space warrants consideration for a hardship waiver while we undertake this process. We have achieved more than many of us expected in terms of the impact we are having on the lives of Portland’s most disadvantaged and disenfranchised residents, those whom BDS’s mission to “Maintain safe and livable neighborhoods” is failing. We ask that the Bureau work with us to help extend this mission to all of Portland’s residents.”

Street Roots left a message for comment with Michael Liefeld, section manager for the BDS who has been handling this case, but he was not immediately available.

You can read the complete Right 2 Dream Too appeal here

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

City wants to see plans for Fourth and Burnside

Portland’s Bureau of Development Services is calling on the owners of the property at NW Fourth and Burnside to produce plans for the lot, now that a community of homeless people have set up a tent city there.

The bureau’s Enforcement Program Section Manager Mike Liefeld sent a letter to property owners Michael Wright and Dan Cossette noting that the press has already reported on an a lease agreement and preliminary plans for the property, but nothing has been turned into the city. Liefeld has given the owners 10 days within receipt of the letter, dated Oct. 12, to produce a detailed plan for property use, occupancy and development of the property, along with the lease agreement.

Approximately 70 people have set up tents on the site, and have constructed a fence made of doors for privacy along Burnside Street. At issue is compliance with state and local laws on occupancy, including permits and land use regulations.

Meanwhile, the Old Town/Chinatown Livability and Safety Committee has invited the leadership of the Right 2 Dream Too group which has occupied the site to attend their upcoming meeting Oct. 26.

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

Homeless activists say safety, stability the priority

Folks with Right 2 Dream Too at their "membership site" at NW Fourth and Burnside.

A group of homeless people who have set up a new residential community say they are trying to establish a safe and stable place for people experiencing homelessness in Portland.

Just don’t call it a “camp.”

“We checked the coding, we checked the zoning, we checked everything, and now they want to call it a camp. This is not a camp,” says Ibrahim Mubarak, one of the leaders of the small group and one of the founders of Dignity Village. “We’re not going to build, we’re just going to have stable structure things that people can sleep under and be safe and dry under by no structures that are permanent.”

The group – calling itself Right 2 Dream Too — is an offshoot of the Right 2 Survive organization. Right 2 Survive is composed of homeless and housed people advocating for civil and human rights for people on the street. They’re calling the site at Fourth and Burnside a “membership space,” with the purpose of raising awareness on the importance of safe and secure place for undisturbed sleep.

“We’re out here because there is no place for people who have no place to sleep to sleep. So we want to bring in a good place where they can come and rest,” says Ibrahim. Continue reading