By Leo Rhodes, Contributing Columnist
In 2009 when I first came to Portland, I came to rest from all the advocacy I had done in Seattle. A friend came to me and showed me minutes from the Coordinating Committee to End Homelessness (CCEH). The minutes stated that the committee was not keeping up with putting people in housing. Sally Erikson took this issue to Commissioner Nick Fish. Commissioner Fish said to get eight or nine people together and brainstorm on what to do. I was one of those people.
The alternative committee came up with about 15 ways to help the homeless: from people sleeping in cars in empty parking lots, to rental assistance, to tent cities. CCEH prioritized them from 1 to 15. The results were supposed to come out to the city commissioners and mayor of Portland in January 2010. They were put on hold because of an anti-camping lawsuit. They have been on the back burner over since. Continue reading
Photo by Nat Needham
By Amanda Eckerson, Contributing Writer
On the corner of Third and Main Street, a village is being constructed. The organizers and allies of Occupy Portland have begun laying down hay to cover mud, hanging tarps to keep out the rain, and developing internal infrastructure to support their movement. Seven blocks away, members of the Right 2 Dream Too (R2D2), have taken over the lease of an empty lot by the Chinatown gate, and begun constructing a rest area for houseless members of their community. There are very real differences between these two instances, which have recently occurred in Portland: one is an occupation of public land, the other has a lease on private land. The occupation has been given tentative permission by the city, while R2D2’s occupancy is being disputed as illegal.
People are virtually abandoning their homes to join the Occupy Portland movement, while members of R2D2 are reacting to the fact they have no place to sleep. Despite these elements, there is a deeper strand of solidarity that exists between these two movements. Both groups are responding to the larger inequality of our social system, the lack of access to political power, and the rights of all of us to dream. Continue reading
Around 200 people marched from the Occupy Portland headquarters in SW Portland to the Right to Dream Too rest area tonight. The group listened to homeless individuals, including two Street Roots vendors who talked about their experience with homelessness and how they are in solidarity with Occupy Portland.
Photo by Sue Zalokar
The most recent photo shows the rest area has grown from three tents and six people in the lot on NW 4th and Burnside to more than 40 tents with an estimated 100 people.
Posted by Israel Bayer
Occupy Portland has sent the following letter to city officials…
This open letter from the General Assembly of Occupy Portland affirms our solidarity with the homeless people in our city. We ask that City ordinances currently used to criminalize homeless people be suspended until new solutions are found. This request is in accordance with the official Bill of Rights for Children and Youth as adopted by Portland and Multnomah County: “Shelter: We have the inherent right to shelter. The City of Portland and Multnomah County should continue their efforts to provide adequate shelter to those who need it.”
The number of unhoused people living on the streets of Portland has steadily increased over the past ten years in spite of good intentions to reduce homelessness to zero. Instead, Portland city officials are now cracking down on the efforts of a nonprofit homeless organization, “Right to Dream Too” (R2DToo) to open their self-help site, a rest area for those forced to live outdoors (located next to the Chinatown gate on Burnside Street). Their goals are modest and very basic: “The right to rest, the right to sleep, and the right to dream, too.”
The Occupy Wall Street movement is calling attention to the increasing inequality and economic injustice across the country. One frequent grievance is the rise of evictions due to home foreclosures, a trend which has been exposed as caused by banks’ irresponsible manipulation of loans. Many more Americans are now on the precarious edge of living one or two paychecks away from joining the homeless. This is a state of economic emergency which calls out for extraordinary action by governments.
We encourage you to open dialogue with alternative solutions — such as the R2DToo rest area, which is legally leased on private property, and is run by experienced volunteers with support from the community. Such efforts in self-determination and bootstrap self-help cost the City nothing, as they are funded by charity and managed by the hard work of volunteer organizers. Such projects are in the American vein of self-reliance and also strengthen community bonds. We invite you to help such grassroots solutions.
Finally, The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth can be found prominently displayed on the reception desk of Mayor Adams’ office, and is also online at the County website. It affirms what Occupy Portland also affirms: the inalienable right to survive, which requires shelter. Families and individuals who cannot live indoors, for whatever reason, should not be swept out of sight and mind. They deserve the human dignity to be seen and to exist in our city.
Thank you for considering this appeal, and we welcome your response.
Occupy Portland, General Assembly
Street Roots is waiting to hear back from the Mayor’s office, and it’s also been rumored that a march will take place sometime this evening in solidarity with the homeless rest area on NW 4th and Burnside.
The group of people experiencing homelessness on NW 4th and Burnside continues to grow. Starting out at eight individuals with three tents, the group now stands at nearly 60 individuals with nearly 30 tents. In the past 24-hours a private citizen donated a portable toilet (seen below) and local carpenters volunteered throughout the day and night to help build slabs for tents to rest on.
Yesterday the group calling themselves, “Right to Dream Too,” shared with Street Roots blueprints for how they envision the space over the next year.
Photos and post by Israel Bayer.
The group calling itself Right to Dream Too swelled to nearly sixteen tents overnight. With winter nearing, according to the group, they are setting up a
place to rest. The group says they are trying to establish a safe and stable place for people experiencing homelessness in Portland.
According to the City of Portland/Multnomah County 2011 homeless count, 2,727 people who were “literally homeless” – sleeping in an emergency shelter, vouchered into a motel, or unsheltered – on the night of January 26.
This number includes 1,718 people who were unsheltered (sleeping outside, in a vehicle, or abandoned building) and 1,009 people who were sleeping in an emergency shelter or vouchered into a motel. An additional 1,928 people were sleeping in transitional housing on the night of the count, bringing the total homeless count to 4,655.