A letter to Saltzman (cc’d to all other commissioners) & Nick Fish Responds

Posted: February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Dear Commissioner Saltzman,

I’m writing to ask you to take the necessary steps to support the Right 2 Dream Too, a group of homeless individuals who are currently sleeping in tents on the corner of 4th and Burnside.  I am concerned that the city is approaching this group as if they were a non-profit with a huge budget or even worse, a private developer attempting to set up a tourist facility.

In reality, Right 2 Dream Too is an organization made up of the most vulnerable citizens of Portland, who are assisting each other in getting the services they need – the most basic of which is a place to sleep.  The location makes it possible for people to access the other services in the area, including food, showers, health care, clothing, AA meetings and more.  A number of “Dreamers” have found jobs and housing, during the past 3 months.  Not only that, those who continue to struggle with unemployment, houselessness, and addiction recovery, are part of a community of support.  At R2Dtoo, people have the basics they need to lift themselves up, instead of focusing on basic survival, as they are chased out of doorways and from under bridges.

You know as well as I do that zoning violations can be addressed in many ways.  Recently, the council passed an ordinance instructing BDS to ignore code violations for a pilot program which allows a small number of people to camp in their vehicles on church property.  In Seattle, an ordinance was passed last year that allows groups of up to one hundred people to camp on church property.  Why don’t you and the other commissioners put your heads together and come up with an ordinance to support the activities of Right 2 Dream Too?  Even better, why not talk to Right 2 Dream Too as equals, instead of telling them what they need to do.  Listen to the people who know the reality of being homeless in Portland, and thank them for coming up with solutions that work.  Then give them the administrative and financial support necessary for implementing programs that benefit the entire community.

When you say that fines are being assessed against the property owner, it obscures the issue, which is that the tenants, a group of homeless individuals, are the responsible party as the lease holders.  These fines punish homeless people for trying to find a safe and legal means of survival.

There is a great deal of support for Right 2 Dream Too.  It is growing every day.  The “Dreamers” have even won over many members of the Old Town China Town community who initially were concerned about their presence.  Surely the city government can take the lead from these visionaries, and come to the table with concrete support.  It does not benefit the city, or the downtown businesses, to displace people back into the doorways, and under bridges.

Let’s work on a win-win solution.

Sincerely,

Trillium Shannon

****************************************************************************************************

Thank you for your email regarding the Right 2 Dream Too site.

I share your view that ending homelessness in our community is a top priority. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home.

The Portland Housing Bureau, which I oversee, invests in proven strategies to help people find affordable homes, access services, and escape the weather in local shelters.

I recognize the service R2D2 provides to those who use the site. At the same time, there are state and City regulations that govern how sites can be used and what development standards must be met. These rules apply to everyone, without exception.

My understanding is that there are a small number of building standard violations that the property owner will need to meet to comply with the City’s code. I also understand that R2D2 organizers have had a number of meetings with Commissioner Saltzman, who oversees the Bureau of Development Services, and City staff, who have explained the rules that apply and what the site will need to do to become legal.

As with other sites that are out of compliance with City code, the R2D2 site will continue to accrue fines until it the violations are addressed.

Thanks again for sharing your views with me.

Sincerely,

Nick Fish

www.portlandonline.com/fish

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s