Dear Editor,

Many of our members and residents here in Portland's shanty town Dignity Village were angry and somewhat puzzled by Ronald Williams' letter (Shanties ought to be a source of public shame, Oct. 7) accompanied by the file photo of what our village looked like a couple of years ago during our first, bitter Winter here at Sunderland Yard.

Of course we agree that the working poor and poor need better housing and that affordable housing needs to be built. No one should have to live the way most homeless people in this town do, in doorways and under bridges or hiding under bushes being chased from place to place. That's how the majority of us live. Here at Dignity we have hot and cold running water, gas, electricity and heat and so we're far better off than most other homeless people. We help other homeless people like ourselves and Dignity Village is a blessing to this town's poor.

We all know that the gap between rich and poor is growing along with the homeless population, that affordable places to live in are getting harder to find, that magnificent mansions next to little shacks are somewhat obscene. But to wag our fingers and cry, "Shame on the rich and the government!" without offering some sort of solution ourselves puts us on the same level as the editors of The Oregonian who call consistently for our closure but take no stand themselves and offer no solution. Dignity Village is our solution.

Does Mr Williams think we should be shut down to go back to the doorways from whence we came? Or would he rather we all line up at the Goose Hollow Family Shelter he represents to sleep on that shelter's partitioned gymnasium floor?

We invite Ronald Williams to visit us here at Dignity Village and to see the work we're doing that he may better understand.

Yours truly,
Jack Tafari, chairman.
Dignity Village.