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. # # #