DIGNITY VILLAGE UPDATE: July 9th 2001
Over the past two weeks, a number of major developments have occurred that
present a new set of opportunities and challenges to Dignity Village. This
is to update on these and request your continued support in the effort.
Many thanks to all supporters who phoned, and/or wrote letters or post
cards to City Hall. This outpouring of support from the community has
convinced Commissioner Erik Sten's office and Mayor Katz to work in a more
positive vein with the village on several related fronts, including:
1) 60-DAY EXTENSION TO USE CURRENT SITE UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1st: The city
prevailed upon ODOT (owner of current site) to grant us a 60 day extension
to remain on the current site at 17th and NW Savier. This takes the heat
off for the moment, but also means that we still face a serious September
1st deadline, as ODOT is not expected to cooperate with any further
2) POSSIBLE ONE-YEAR LEASE ON PUBLIC LAND: The Commissioner's and Mayor's
offices are working more collaboratively with Village leadership and
supporters to attempt to identify public land on which to relocate the
Village under a one-year lease agreement, provided that an appropriate site
is identified and that Dignity Village meets a number of conditions
(related to size/demographics of population, relations with neighbors, code
issues, cooperation with police, etc.)
3) CONTINUED NEGOTIATIONS/POSSIBLE PILOT PROJECT: The city is continuing
negotiations with village residents/supporters to explore incorporating the
Dignity Village self-governance model (as a "one-year pilot project)" as
part of the city's continuum of care for working with homelessness. We had
the first in a series of meetings on Friday, July 6th, to discuss
conditions and strategies for locating land.
CURRENT CHALLENGES AND NEEDS:
Although the July 1st deadline was removed and tenor of Friday's meeting
was constructive, the situation is very provisional and tenuous, presenting
a number of significant challenges that will need to be addressed over the
next 52 days, including:
1) POSSIBLE LEGAL CHALLENGES BY DETRACTORS: Although the overwhelming
majority of input from the general public has been very positive (thanks to
you all), there have also been indications of possible organized resistance
to our efforts through lawsuits aimed at either the city and/or ODOT.
2) SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES TO LOCATING A NEW SITE: Any land considered for a
one-year lease will be under considerable scrutiny by detractors, the
media, immediate neighbors and the neighborhood groups. We may need a
"conditional use permit" to occupy the future site to avoid lawsuits for
a) volunteer (probono) professional/technical assistance with land use law,
public relations, publicity, media relations, neighborhood group relations,
b) information about possible public (or private) land near the downtown
core that may be suitable for a new site.
[for a and b above, please contact John Hubbird by return email or at
1) CPA/ACCOUNTANT: Dignity Village is seeking a socially conscious
CPA/accountant to provide probono assistance to the Village in managing its
financial records. Please contact Layla Iranshad at REINALAYLA@YAHOO.COM
or by phone at (503) 528-9895.
2) DIGNITY HOUSING COLLECTIVE: There is considerable interest currently to
establish a Dignity Housing Collective by leasing/renting a large house to
serve a variety of purposes as noted below in concept paper.
Proposal: Forming a Dignity Village Housing Collective
A number of Dignity Supporters (currently housed people actively
collaborating with the Dignity Village/Out of the Doorways Campaign) are
themselves at risk of becoming homeless and joining the tent city due to
the spiraling cost of housing in Portland. Some discussions among
supporters about this has sparked an idea: what about creating a housing
collective comprised solely of DV supporters and perhaps some campers too?
A Dignity Housing Collective could serve a number of functions, such as:
(1) Campaign Resource Center/office: Creates a space where supporter-owned
resources (such as computers, phones, automobiles, etc.) could be
consolidated and sourced out to the DV campaign more collaboratively and
(2) Storage: a place where potentially useful donated items could be stored
until permanent site is found or until they are actually needed at the
(2) Emergency Housing: a place where Villagers with special needs could
temporarily get out of the weather if, for example, they just got out of
the hospital or are very sick, having a baby, etc..
(3) Transitional Housing: a place where campers with sufficient income
could transition into affordable housing situation and remain linked to the
(4) Homeless Prevention: a place where supporters facing homelessness
themselves due to rising housing costs could avoid becoming totally
homeless and be better situated to make an ongoing daily contribution to
the larger DV campaign.
(5) Village Industry Site: use the garage as a production facility for
siting village industry projects (such as converting pallets, tin cans,
tires, etc. into marketable finished products.
(6) Addresses City concern: the house would provide emergency temporary
shelter for homeless families with children, which addresses one of the
city's major concerns.
If a house could be rented for $1200 and house 4 people, the rent would be
$300 each, plus 1/4 of utilities. Most supporters are already paying much
more than that for their housing costs, so it would also be manifesting the
Dignity Village principle that "we can do more together in community than
we can operating as isolated individuals."
If you have or know about a large house that could be leased/rented for
this purpose by a dignity-friendly owner, or if are interested in meeting
with other supporters or villagers to explore this possibility, please
return this e-mail with contact information (phone esp.) or call John
Hubbird at (503)295-7747.