Tag Archives: tent city

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: 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 more practical than political

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

Seattle councilmen tour Dignity Village

Seattle Councilman Nick Licata, left, speaks with Dignity Village member Scott Layman inside of the common room during a tour of Dignity Village Friday, March 4. Licata was joined by fellow council members Sally Bagshaw and Tom Rasmussen. Seattle is considering recreating a similar agreement for tent cities residents in Seattle. For more than a decade, Dignity Village has worked with the city as a transitional housing option for people working to move out of homelessness.

Above, Seattle Councilmen Sally Bagshaw, left, and Nick Licata, right, take photographs of the structures at Dignity Village during a tour given by villager Scott Layman, center. Photos by Amiran White.

Seattle Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw blogged about the visit to Dignity.

Camping lawsuit talks stall as new rules hang in the balance

New guidelines for homeless campsites could land before council in the coming weeks

By Amanda Waldroupe
Contributing Writer

As of late January, the settlement negotiations to a year-old class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Portland’s camping ordinance have stalled, with litigation proceeding.

“I had very much hoped that the settlement would be in place right now, given that it’s winter and it’s cold and people are outside and it’s miserable,’ says Monica Goracke with the Oregon Law Center, which filed the case in December 2008 on behalf of seven plaintiffs. “We and the city attorney’s office worked very hard to come up with what we feel is a reasonable settlement, and I still hope that we can reach agreement. But we are fully prepared to litigate this case if necessary.”

But the city attorney in charge of that case and City Commissioner Nick Fish say that negotiations to end the lawsuit are not dead, and new guidelines dictating permissible camping should become city policy in two weeks. Fish said that he is working with Dan Saltzman, the commissioner in charge of the Portland Police Bureau, on setting new camping guidelines

“I think it is quite likely that these guidelines will be the basis of a settlement to the federal lawsuit,” Fish says.

“The plan is to test drive them first,” Fish says. “It is my hope they will provide a framework for settling the lawsuit.”

Camps that are four people or smaller, out of earshot and sight of other camps or 50 yards away, and is not loud or causing health and sanitation problems would be allowed on public property between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. The police also could not, under the proposed guidelines, enforce the anti-camping ordinance against people sleeping in their cars.

Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

The wait is over! The latest edition of Street Roots rolls off the press tomorrow morning for a very personalized delivery in your neighborhood by your local vendor. He’s not the only face you’ll recognize this weekend:

The home team’s advantage: Former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington focuses his gaze on Portland’s front lines. Joanne Zuhl sat down with Harrington, who is settling back into Portland and working with multiple charities benefiting children and the homeless.

Camping lawsuit talks stall as new rules hang in the balance: New guidelines for homeless campsites could land before council in the coming weeks. Amanda Waldroup reports on the status of negotiations with the lawsuit and it’s potential impact on a proposal to loosen camping laws for the city’s homeless population.

States, cities explore housing funding frameworks: A rundown of what other communities doing to find creative ways to correct the affordable housing deficit.

Of gatekeepers and street sweepers: Poet, author, artist, agitator Saul Williams lays his alter ego to rest.

And commentaries from the Mental Health Association of Portland, the People’s Planet crew and much more. Don’t wait too long or they could be gone. Grab your raincoat, a cup of joe, and your new Street Roots Friday morning!

BREAKING NEWS: Homeless campers release statement


A group of around 20 individuals experiencing homelessness released a statement tonight about the protest in front of City Hall.

“We are here tonight to show that this is the only campsite that is safe inside the city of Portland and that we really need places that we are able to go for the night and know that we are going to be safe. By safe, we mean that we’ll be able to pitch a tent or sleep in a shelter or live in a tent city without harassment from the police.”

The statement goes on to say that individuals experiencing homelessness need more access to services, including emergency shelter year round. The group also asks the city to allow for another tent city within the city limits of Portland.

In July of last year, Street Roots’ Amanda Waldroupe explored what another tent city in Portland might look like.

In May of this year, Street Roots called for another tent city as a possible alternative in an editorial titled, Another Dignity Village? Why not?

Currently, the city is looking at several alternative proposals surrounding camping, including allowing for another tent city. The camping ordinance itself is currently being challenged in court by the Oregon Law Center. In August, a district judge gave the green light to a group of homeless people in the class action suit after the city tried to have it thrown out of court.

Read more about the protest and alternatives the city is exploring in the next edition of Street Roots this Friday.

Posted by Israel Bayer

Seattle’s tent city to move to permanent location

NickelsvilleSeaOfTents-fullNickelsville, the Seattle tent city that cropped up last year in protest of Mayor Greg Nickels’ policies on homelessness, will move to a permanent location on June 5, according to its organizers.

Though they haven’t announced what the new location will be, Nickelsville’s organizers say the new site will have ten times the capacity of the church lot they’ve stayed on for the last three months.

The cluster of 155 bright pink tents first formed in September in South Seattle. The tent city has moved several times as the city and state have evicted them from public lands.

Last week, the city dropped criminal tresspassing charges against 23 people who were arrested at Nickelsville in October. Read more on the Real Change blog.

Street Roots’ most recent coverage of Dignity Village, Portland’s only permanent tent city, is now online here and here.

– Mara Grunbaum

Dignity Village today


Dignity Village has battled through a turbulent past to arrive where it is today. Starting as a group of eight men and women who pitched five tents on public land nearly nine years ago, the village today is a far cry from a tent city that came to symbolize the struggle of people experiencing homelessness — not only in Portland, but around the country.

“I wouldn’t call them a tent city,” says Sally Erickson, who oversees Portland’s 10-year plan to end homelessness with the Bureau of Housing and Community Development. “I would call them a community.”

“I think it has been a social experiment that illustrates what people with little to no resources were able to pull together to create a healthy and functioning community,” says Wendy Kohn of Kwamba Productions, which is putting together a documentary about the group over the past decade.

“At so many points along the way, they could have failed,” Kohn goes on to say. “It could have flamed out and become an example of a group of people trying to do something positive and coming up short — like so many times throughout history. Instead we see, over a ten-year period, a group of people who haven’t failed and are still recreating themselves through a democratic process.”

News organizations around the country reference Dignity Village as a sidenote when they write about the growing number of tent cities in the United States. Typically summed up in a sentence or two, the village is described as a success. To the local public in Portland, however, Dignity Village has seemed fairly quiet — yet that’s a far cry from the truth.

Last year alone, the village had more than 1,000 visitors — mostly housing activists, students, faith-based community members, policy wonks and politicians from five continents and eight countries.

Erickson says she takes calls from all over the country from city governments and other parties interested in the village.

Erickson points them to the Tent City Toolkit, an interactive DVD the village created with Kwamba Productions. The toolkit takes individuals on the streets through the step-by-step process of turning a tent city into a semi-permanent community through direct action. That a city official would promote tent city information at all may mean that even at the government level, our city is more progressive than most.

“I tell them Dignity Village was and is unique,” says Erickson. “It wasn’t like the city just created a tent city. (Dignity Village) fought for everything they have, but they also created a non-profit after realizing the political dynamics involved and overcame many obstacles. Dignity Village should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

Kohn agrees. She says Portland is lucky to have had the personalities on the streets that it did when the village was born.

“(The organizers) were politically and socially sophisticated,” says Kohn. “After the city realized they weren’t going away under any circumstances, (the city) began to create an absence of barriers, so to speak, and waited to see if the village would fail or be successful. Today there’s a new generation carrying that same spirit on and (they) are doing remarkably well.” Continue reading

This week on the homeless front…

Oct. 28, 2008

From Street Roots:

Paul Boden asks when a family falls – does anyone hear them?

Taking down the system: Rules for Radicals in the digital era.

Around the horn:

Supporters rally to save Nashville tent city for the time.

Bush credited with reducing chronic homelessnes.

Portland assesses health of folks on the streets.

Drastic cuts in public health proposed.

Artwork by Nili Yosha

Posted by Israel Bayer

This week on the homeless front…

October 21, 2008

Tax credit crunch hits affordable housing in Oregon.

D.C. also hit hard.

In Ireland market rate housing is now cheaper than affordable housing schemes.

The USA Today reports “New homeless numbers alarming.”

The Housing Minister in British Columbia slams a court decision to allow people experiencing homelessness in parks. In the meantime, police say campers can expect early wake-up calls while the city appeals the decision. The debate in Victoria and Vancouver is raging.

The City of Seattle orders a new tent city encampment called “Nickelsville” to merge with the already existing tent city or face legal consequences. Read more about the emergence of Nickelsville from our sister paper in Seattle, Real Change.

Nevada tent cities rise in shadow of casinos.

Posted by Israel Bayer

Judge rules in favor of Tent City 4 in Seattle

From the Seattle Times

Full story: Making a pitch for tents

(Story from June 27 issue) By Amanda Waldroupe

One of the reverberating aftershocks of the three-week-long homeless protest outside City Hall is the question of whether Portland needs another “tent city” to solve the problem of homelessness.

“It’s necessary because of the amount of poor people who need a place to be other than outside,” says Larry Reynolds, one of the protest’s leaders.

The resolve and desire may exist at the street level, but another question begs raising: is there the support among the people who can actually make another tent city happen?

“There’s a million other questions I would ask,” says Mark Lakeman, the founder of the City Repair Project and the architect and designer of Dignity Village.

“Shall people be engaged in converting their own problems into their own solutions? Shall a group of people living in streets see themselves as having value? Can they contribute to the world? Of course,” he says.

Continue reading

We’re waiting.

Street Roots editorial, June 27.

After more than three weeks of protests by individuals experiencing homelessness, countless actions (including actions by Street Roots and Sisters Of The Road), weekly testimonials from individuals in front of City Council and the realization for many that we are indeed dealing with a housing crisis, Portland finds itself at a crossroads.

City Hall has sent a clear and consistent message that both the camping ordinance and the sit-lie ordinance will not be repealed, at least not in the near future.

First and foremost, the outrage on the streets is in direct response to a lack of housing and the realities that come with not having a home. For many, those realities come in the form of the enforcement of obscene laws, meant to keep order and maintain business as usual.

Both the camping and sit-lie laws, coupled with park exclusions (overseen by a private security agency that continues to go unchecked) and programs like the Service Coordination Team, are intended to maintain order downtown and to ultimately help individuals. But it’s time our politicians faced the cold, hard facts that these laws are breaking people’s spirits.

Beyond facing the great wilderness of being homeless, individuals on the streets are being constantly harassed by law enforcement and private security agencies that have no clear solutions other than to push them out of sight.

In the past six weeks, many of those individuals have refused to remain invisible.

Continue reading

A pitch for tents

Is Portland ready – or willing – to create another tent city for the homeless? Reporter Amanda Waldroupe takes an in-depth look at the politics surrounding another tent city, or what some individuals on the streets are calling a “green zone.”

We look at Dignity Village eight years after it’s formation. How is the village fairing? What is life like right now at Dignity? Are people being housed? You might be surprised.

Other features this week include opinions from the Mental Health Association of Portland, the New Sanctuary Movement and a look at poverty and justice with Father Loughery with the Downtown Chapel.

Our sister paper in Argentina spends a day talking Che, life as president and politics with the Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, Evo Morales.

Street Roots catches up with homeless youth outreach worker Dennis Lundberg, and looks at lessons to be learned on the 75th anniversary of the New Deal.

You’d be crazy not to pick up a Street Roots coming out tomorrow.