Posts Tagged ‘Nick Fish’

PORTLAND, ORE February 24, 2012–

Shortly after the horrifying shooting of two sleeping, unhoused men on Wednesday morning, the people of Right 2 Dream Too learned that at least one of the men had recently been an overnight guest at our rest area on NW 4th & Burnside. That man attempted to secure a safe place to sleep at R2DToo on Tuesday evening, but all spaces were taken by the time he arrived. Instead, he walked over the river to sleep on Belmont Street, under the Morrison Bridge, where he and his friend found shelter from the rain.

All of us at Right 2 Dream Too are grateful that both men survived the attack and hope for a speedy recovery for the man still hospitalized. People living on Portland’s streets un-sheltered are no strangers to so-called “random” acts of violence perpetrated by others who stereotype them and see them as less than human. But the degree of viciousness and inhumanity in these attacks have left have left people in our community shaken and frightened.

We support local and national efforts to include the unhoused as a protected class in existing hate crime legislation, like Oregon House Bill 2964, sponsored by Representative Michael Dembrow. The National Coalition for the Homeless, in their campaign to pass similar Federal legislation, notes that: “Hate crimes may effectively intimidate other members of the community, leaving them feeling isolated, vulnerable and unprotected by the law.” Today, that is the state Portland’s unhoused find themselves in.

We call upon Portland’s City Council to recognize that dehumanization of people experiencing homelessness exists on a continuum that begins with its own policies that target the unhoused. The Sidewalk Management Ordinance literally shoves people without shelter to the curb. The anti-camping ordinances that apply on public and private property expressly prevent the unhoused from gathering together to keep each other safe and build community.

Right 2 Survive, a group dedicated to defending the rights of people experiencing homelessness, started Right 2 Dream Too as an alternative to these dehumanizing practices, to demonstrate that those of us who are or have been unhoused can organize solutions that provide safety and shelter at no cost to taxpayers. Our project is a not a complete solution to homelessness, but we have in a few short months provided a safe place to sleep for hundreds of people who would have been on the street and provided a base for several people who have obtained permanent housing. In the face of insufficient funding for traditional shelter space, the most severe housing crisis since the Great Depression, and the overburdened and inadequate social safety net, we think it is past time for City Council to acknowledge that immediate and affordable alternatives must exist side-by-side with Portland’s long-term efforts to end homelessness. Not doing so exposes the people who Right 2 Dream Too must turn away every night for lack of space to the types of violence perpetrated against these two men last Wednesday morning. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Right 2 Dream Too provides refuge and a safe space to sleep undisturbed for Portland’s unhoused community who cannot access affordable housing or shelter. R2DToo was established on World Homeless Action Day, October 10, 2011.

Right 2 Survive is a group of houseless and formerly houseless individuals dedicated to teaching about and defending the human civil and constitutional rights of people experiencing homelessness. # # #

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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

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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