Tag Archives: Street Roots

One veteran uses his experiences to connect with the next generation

robertbrittmug-copy_WEBBy Robert Britt

I met Brian Bland just before Veterans Day.

Brian, a former Marine Corps corporal who served two deployments in Iraq, had been invited to Reynolds High School in Troutdale, just east of Portland. The school was hosting a Living History Day, a day devoted to recognizing area veterans and inviting them to share their stories with the student body.

All our modern wars were represented: WWII, Korea, Vietnam — each veteran sharing their story with the students. Brian, at 30 years old this month, took his place that day as a representative of our new generation of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his two tours to the Middle East earning him his seat.

In front of a class of about 15 students, Brian had at his flank three survivors of the war in Vietnam. And after one told his story of being at sea aboard the USS Oriskany the day a fire killed 44 of his shipmates in 1966, it was Brian’s turn to share his story.

BrianBlandMAIN-copy_WEBHe had joined the Marine Corps in mid-2001 and was in boot camp on 9/11. Trained as a combat engineer, he deployed to Kuwait in 2003 and his unit was among those to breach the Iraqi border for the invasion forces that March. Continue reading

A thank you to readers, from Street Roots vendors

TY-Vendors-copy_WEBThis holiday season, Street Roots vendors offer up some of their favorite memories with their customers. What follows is a sampling of the many experiences that happen daily between vendors and readers. From all of the vendors, thank you for your support and have a happy holiday!

One of my customers she goes out there and help others to help bolster their spirits. She’s so amazing. She has so many things happening with her and yet she’s making it her personal mission to help others. This is one person that makes me glad to be spiritual.

— Saul Cortes

When I was working at Rite Aid I met a Christian lady who really liked Street Roots. We were talking about God and we all prayed–it was me, Don and her–and afterwards she gave us a $20, and she also bought a paper from me and we exchanged numbers; now she’s my roommate! There was another time where I was on the bus mall over on sixth and this beautiful lady came by and I explained Street Roots to her and she handed me a 20 dollar bill. I thanked her, and she just looked at me and smiled and went on.

— Cynthia Foix Continue reading

Vendor profile: Making a pitch for new beginnings

darrylgoeascopy_webBy Erin Fenner, Contributing Writer

Darryl Goeas, 48, is homeless for the first time in his life.

“It’s been kind of scary,” he said.

In August, he moved from Reno, his home for 13 years, looking for work. When a job fell through, he was left in Portland’s city center, not knowing where to sleep or how to stay safe. He was alone for two days before he met “Raider” Dave. Goeas told him that he didn’t have a place to sleep, and Dave took him back to his own spot next to the Wonder Ballroom. He met people there who he become friends with, and now considers family. Continue reading

Philanthropy for the masses: Give!Guide engages community-minded donors


Photo by V. Kapoor

by Israel Bayer, Staff writer

The Give!Guide, created by the Willamette Week in 2004, started by raising $20,000 for a handful of local nonprofits. Nine years later, it helps raise more than $1.5 million dollars for more than 100 local organizations. The groups span the fields of animal services, the arts, community, education, environment health and wellness social action and youths.

The mission of the Give!Guide is to instill an annual giving habit in Portlanders under the age of 36. Equally important is the guide’s goal to raise as much money as possible for the nonprofits profiled online at wweek.com/giveguide.

Street Roots, which is among the nonprofits in the Give!Guide, sat down with Nick Johnson, the guide’s executive director, to talk about the project.

Israel Bayer: Tell us about the Give!Guide.

Nick Johnson: The goal of the Give!Guide is to create a platform to compel the Willamette Week’s readership to give back to the community and engage individuals in their civic duty.

It’s also meant to encourage people under 36 to give at a younger age. We know that if younger people give a donation, even if it’s only $10, they are more likely to give throughout their entire lifetime.  Continue reading

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.

Spend 24 hours on the streets with Street Roots #SR24

20.5jpgStreet Roots will be giving the public an extensive look inside the world of homelessness over a 24-hour period through Twitter.

Eight reporters and staff will be working around the clock to deliver interviews and imagery in the field with homeless and formerly homeless individuals, social service and health care providers, law enforcement and policy makers.

The organization will be reporting live from social service agencies to offer a closer look at local shelters, drop-in centers, tent cities and homeless camps. We will be visiting with formerly homeless individuals in their homes, spending time with the police, policy makers, health care providers, outreach workers, buskers and sleeping out on the streets.

You won’t want to miss it.

Street Roots will be reporting over Twitter using the hashtag #SR24.

We will also be encouraging others to take part in a lively conversation on the issue of homelessness and to share your thoughts and experiences on the subject matter.

Street Roots will then be publishing the 24-hour look on homelessness in the next edition of the newspaper coming out on Friday, December 21.

When: Thursday, December 13, starting at 6 a.m.

Where: Street Roots Twitter feed at @StreetRoots hashtag #SR24

Reporters and staff working on the project include: Joanne Zuhl, @jozuhl, Cole Merkel, @ColeMerkel, Robert Britt, @BobBrittPDX, Sue Zalokar @SueZalokar, Jake Thomas @jakethomas2009, Alex Zielinski, @alex_zee, Israel Bayer, @IsraelBayer, Sarah Beecroft, @skjalf

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.”