Each year in Portland, Oregon, the city government permits pitching tents along the Grand Floral Parade route. For 24 hours, the city allows camping in the city, an activity that is criminalized the other 364 days, causing houseless people to seek shelter in doorways, under bridges, and in bushes, in hopes of surviving the rain and cold without shelter.
Right 2 Survive, an organization led by houseless and formerly houseless community members, says that it isn’t right to allow people to camp for leisure and not for survival. “What kind of message is the city sending?,” asks long time homeless advocate Leo Rhodes. “They are saying it is okay to camp for recreation, but if you are one of the thousands of people in Portland without housing or shelter you will be fined and harassed for erecting a structure for survival.”
Last year Right 2 Survive invited their friends, allies, and supporters to pitch tents alongside houseless community members on the parade route in protest. The protest was not aimed at the parade, but the practice of allowing people to pitch tents for leisure and not allowing them to pitch tents for survival. The event was a great success. We counted about one hundred and eighty participants and about one hundred people stayed to spend the night. We were entertained by the Radical Cheerleaders, a puppet show, street musicians, and videos projected on a wall by the B Media Collective. There was plenty of food for housed and unhoused folks alike, and the Rosehip Medic Collective made sure everyone’s health needs were tended.
This year, Right 2 Survive is asking folks to come out to Pitch A Tent 2 – The Houseless Strike Back, a name inspired by our friends at Right 2 Dream Too (R2DToo). Right 2 Dream Too is a safe place for over 60 people to sleep each night. R2DToo is located on the corner of 4th and West Burnside and began operation on World Homeless Action Day, October 10th, 2011. However, this self-managed rest area for people without housing is being labeled a “recreational campground” by Dan Saltzman’s Bureau of Development Services and fined over 1,000 dollars each month simply for existing.
HOW YOU CAN HELP. Come pitch a tent for the right to survive. Contact your city officials and tell them to support alternative solutions including self-managed rest areas, eco-villages, collective housing, and tent cities. Demand that our city put an end to ordinances that criminalize people for survival activities.
When: Friday, June 8th through Saturday, June 9th
Meet at Right 2 Dream Too at 9am on Friday, or check in with R2DToo whenever you are able to join us.
Where: Set up along the parade route.
We encourage those who are able to bring extra tents to host houseless folks in need of shelter.
Donate: Tents, sleeping bags, money
RIGHT TO SURVIVE AND THE HOUSELESS COMMUNITY WANT TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN SENDING THE MESSAGE THAT WE ALL DESERVE THE RIGHT TO SLEEP SAFELY AND SHELTERED. HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!