To: Mayor Mel Lastman of Toronto, Ontario.

From: Jack Tafari, chairman, Dignity Village, Portland, OR.

Re: sweeping the streets of the poor.

Dear Mayor Lastman,

know that your poorly-chosen words to CBC reporter John Northcott about wishing you could sweep all the homeless youth and people off the streets in preparation for World Youth Days there in Toronto are reaching far and wide. It's a shame you feel that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ties the City's hands, but poor people have rights, too.

Here in Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, we don't think it's so great that people have to live in doorways and on the streets, but chasing the poor from place to place in sweeps for the entertainment and edification of the tourists isn't really much of a solution either.

Here in Portland affordable housing disappeared by 125 units last year and the recession bites deep into budgets for services. But here at least the City is willing to allow we very poor to try to fix things ourselves. We have a Dignity Village here which we and our supporters and even a member of city government helped build and where at least some of Portland's poor can sleep in peace without fear of being swept and moved along or around. Showers like the ones we've built here make for a cleaner city, not sweeps.

You might try checking Dignity's Web site or talking to some of the people in your tent city there in Toronto about solutions rather than sweeps.

Yours truly,
Jack Tafari.

Cc: Mayor Vera Katz
Cc: Cathy Crowe
Cc: Commissioner Sten
CC: Boni of Toronto Tent City
Cc: Dri of Toronto Tent City
Cc: Ibrahim Mubarak.
Cc: Marc Jolin