Virtual Dignity Dignity Village
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:

  1. 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.
  2. Articles and ByLaws adopted: We adopted articles and by-laws as a membership-based non-profit corporation.
  3. Incorporation with State of Oregon: We filed our articles of incorporation with the State of Oregon on October 22, 2001.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Permanent housing: We assisted an additional 25 residents find permanent housing.
  7. Heated common areas: We designed and built a heated temporary common area using recycled building materials that can be transferred to our next site.
  8. 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.
  9. Internal tracking: We refined our internal tracking systems to better document the good work we do.
  10. 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 community representatives.
  11. Funds raised: We raised over $10,000 in new cash donations for our treasury.
  12. Land Acquisition Fund: We opened a new savings account to receive donations earmarked for purchase of our permanent site.
  13. 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).
  14. 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.
  15. 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).
  16. 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.
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.

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.

  1. 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 progress.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Yours truly,


Jack Tafari, chairman
Dignity Village, Inc.
(971) 570-0220

John Hubbird, community organizer with Dignity Village
SORC-Community Organizing Project
(503) 295-7747