9325 Sunderland Ave.
Portland, OR 97211
February 5, 2002
Mayor Vera Katz and City Commissioners
City of Portland - City Hall
1221 SW 4th Ave.
Portland, OR 97204
Dear Mayor Katz and Commissioners Sten, Hales,
Saltzman and Francisconi:
As you are no doubt aware, our occupancy at the city's Sunderland leaf
composting yard was extended past November 1 of last year until July 1,
2002 in exchange for a Larson Legacy Foundation donation of $20,000.
This letter is to provide an update from that time to the present of the
activities and accomplishments of Dignity Village in the interest of
maintaining a positive relationship and open lines of communication
with the City of Portland.
Our accomplishments at Sunderland Yard:
To everyone's credit, the City's willingness to make Sunderland Yard
available to Dignity Village for an extended period has provided a
useful period of relative stability and allowed our village to grow, develop
and move forward. We have worked hard to comply with the
conditions set forth in the City Council Resolution of August 30, 2001
which we hope demonstrates our good faith and commitment to
maintaining a constructive and supportive relationship with the City. Some of
our accomplishments during the past five months include:
We are proud of the above accomplishments and look forward to expanding on
them as we move forward, step by step, towards building a sustainable urban
village as a permanent resource for Portland's poor, which will improve the
quality of life for all Portlanders.
Internal policies: We adopted a number of internal policies relating
to meeting protocols, standardized consequences for rule violations, and
worked out procedures for the removal of residents who do not comply
with the village's rules.
Articles and ByLaws adopted: We adopted articles and by-laws as a
membership-based non-profit corporation.
Incorporation with State of Oregon: We filed our articles of incorporation
with the State of Oregon on October 22, 2001.
Election of officers: We held elections on December 12, 2001 for new
council members and officers (a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary,
treasurer, sargent-at-arms, and security coordinator) for one year terms.
Application for 501(c)(3) status filed with IRS: We filed our application
in December of 2001 for 501(c)3 status with the IRS and obtained our own
Federal Tax ID number.
Permanent housing: We assisted an additional 25 residents find permanent
Heated common areas: We designed and built a heated temporary common
area using recycled building materials that can be transferred to our next
Hot/accessible showers: We designed and built wheelchair accessible
two-stall hot-water gas-fired showers for ourselves which are also
transportable to our future permanent site.
Internal tracking: We refined our internal tracking systems to better
document the good work we do.
Site Selection Committee: We created a Site Selection Committee to identify
and acquire a permanent site for our village which includes land use
professionals, neighborhood representatives, a private realtor and faith
Funds raised: We raised over $10,000 in new cash donations for our
Land Acquisition Fund: We opened a new savings account to receive donations
earmarked for purchase of our permanent site.
Operating Budget: We produced a 12-month operating budget (please see
attached) and submitted periodic reports to the City of Portland (copies of
which are also attached).
Building codes/zoning issues: Our Site Committee met with OPDR and the
Planning Bureau on December 18th and began proactively addressing building
codes and zoning issues associated with the development of our permanent
site. Dignity's architects, Tim Merrill and Mark Lakeman, are preparing a
set of generic site-plan "scenarios" to present to city staff to better
identify ways of addressing code/zoning issues to bring our village into
better compliance with City codes.
Non-violence training: Village Security crew members and other interested
villagers received another 4-hour training session in the principles and
practice of non-violence by Genny Nelson (Sisters Of The Road Cafe, Inc).
Domestic violence prevention: A group of 6 survivors of domestic violence
attended a general membership meeting and presented information about the
issue, which led to a lively and positive discussion about how to identify
early warning signs and defuse incidents before they erupt into violence.
They also established a liaison with the village for purposes of follow-up
support as needed.
Dignity's future relationship with the City of Portland:
We understand that the formal City Council resolution of August 30 expired on
November 1 and Dignity Village has no active City resolution under which it is
currently operating. However, especially because of our arrangement to remain on
City property until July 1, we feel it appropriate that we update you as to our
understanding of the present relationship between Dignity Village and the City.
Below is a summary of our plans for maintaining a good relationship with the
City of Portland. Dignity Village will assume that these plans are acceptable,
and will act in accordance with them, unless or until we hear otherwise.
Reporting: Dignity Village feels it is important to continue documenting
our success in helping Portland's poor find dignity, overcome personal
challenges, and become productive members of society. Accordingly, we intend
to continue providing periodic reports and updates directly to the Mayor and
City Commissioners, and appropriate city bureaus, to keep you abreast of our
Communication: As we intensify our search for a permanent site, we look
forward to maintaining regular communications with City of Portland,
particularly with the Commissioners, the Mayor's offices, the Bureau of
Housing and Community Development, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement,
the Office of Sustainable Development, the Office of Planning and
Development Review, the Bureau of Planning, and Portland Police Bureau.
Public Safety: Dignity Village representatives met with NE Precinct
Commander Derrick Foxworth and Lt. George Babnick twice, once on September
25, 2001 and again on January 17, 2002. In September, we presented a copy of
the protocol used in Central Precinct under Commander Sizer and asked for a
similar arrangement with NE precinct. Commander Foxworth opted instead to
"flag" all 911 calls involving the village with specific instructions to
officers related to having appropriate back-up available for calls. Lt.
George Babnick was designated as Police Liaison with Dignity Village.
During November and early December of 2001, the flagging policy generated an
inordinate number of 911 calls during October and November of 2001, mostly
involving police backup necessary to address a string of incidents leading to
the ejection of five long-term village residents due to violation of our rules
against drinking on site and violent behavior. There were also several incidents
involving domestic violence. This led to a warning letter on December 14, 2001
from the Mayor's office to the Village. Our meeting with NE Precinct on January
17 was to follow up to this letter and to obtain an updated police report and
clarify lines of communication. The tone of the meeting was quite positive but
we are still unclear as to exactly how the flagging policy works, as we have not
received anything in writing to refer to. We've reiterated our request in a
January 30 email to Lt. Babnick asking for written clarification of this policy
so that our officers and Security Team may better understand how it works to
assist us maintain a crime-free village.
Neighborhood relations: Both at Sunderland Yard and at our future site,
Dignity Village is committed to maintaining positive and proactive relations
with neighbors. To this end, Dignity recently formed a Neighborhood Outreach
Team and plans to continue using resources available to it through the City
of Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Our Neighborhood Outreach
Team has had a number of positive informational meetings with various
neighborhood groups recently, including the Downtown Community Association,
Kerns and Humbolt neighborhoods.
Conflict Mediation: We ask that any disputes or conflicts between our
village and the City of Portland be resolved by a professional mediation
service acceptable to both parties.
Thank you for your continued support.
If there is anything in this letter that the City of Portland would like clarified
further, please feel free to ask.
Jack Tafari, chairman
Dignity Village, Inc.
John Hubbird, community organizer with Dignity Village
SORC-Community Organizing Project