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Although talks continue with the City, Dignity Village must move by August 31st

An update on Dignity Village's ongoing negotiations with the City and the Septemebr 1st forcing Dignity from its current location.

Portland, OR August 22, 2001-- Dignity Village, the tented community for the homeless, must move from its current site on NW 17th and Savier in order to comply with City mandates. The community of 75 will move to an undisclosed location near downtown Portland by midnight, August 31. Although Dignity Village has been in talks with the City since June, a City-approved site still has not been located.

Representatives from Commissioner Erik Sten's office, the Bureau of Housing and Community Development, and Dignity Village are negotiating towards a common goal of creating a pilot project. The pilot project would allow Dignity Village to lease a parcel of public land for a year, in exchange for in-kind services rendered to the City. The proposal will be heard by the City Council on August 30, at two (2) pm, where they will decide whether or not to continue working with Dignity Village to implement this project.

City staff have indicated that it is unlikely that a specific site will be identified in time to be included in the proposal. Even if a site were identified, there is not sufficient time before September first for City attorneys to prepare a lease agreement. Because of this, Council action is expected to be focused solely on whether to support Commissioner Erik Sten's office in its ongoing negotiations with Dignity Village. As the Village prepares to honor its agreement to the City by moving, it hopes the City will follow through on its stated intention in June to find a site and sign a lease agreement.

The lack of a City-sanctioned site leaves Dignity Village potentially subject to a police sweep at its next location. Dignity Village is seeking, but has not received, assurance from the City that this will not happen.

About Dignity Village: Dignity Village, Portland's tented community, was founded in December of 2000 and is today home to approximately 70 people. Currently on its fifth site, it is located on NW 17th Ave. between Raleigh and Savier Streets, under the Fremont Bridge. Their mission is to create a safe, clean, substance-free alternative for those who are currently seeking shelter but are unable to find it. Donations to Dignity Village can be written to Street Roots/Out of the Doorways, 1205 SW Morrison, Portland, OR 97205. For more info contact: John Hubbird (503) 295-7747 or Layla Iranshad (503) 528-9895.

A Letter to the Oregonian 23.Aug.2001 23:03

L Mercier

< reprinted with permission >
23 August 2001

To the Editor,

Steve Duin's insightful critique of the proposed use of Portland Development Commission funds to subsidize a $76 million resort (8/21/01) provides an ironic counterpoint to your recent editorial (8/22/01) on Dignity Village's proposed "private takeover of public land." Duin's column demonstrates that in Portland, public funds and lands are routinely granted to rich developers, whose projects have played a key role in the near elimination of affordable housing in what is touted as one of the most "livable" cities in the U.S.

Your characterization of the Villagers as "unreasonable," "dependent," and "demanding" bears little resemblance to the actual village and its inhabitants, who are striving for independence and autonomy. In its short history, Dignity Village has developed a cooperative organic farm and a democratic system of self-governance, has solicited and received training on nonviolent conflict resolution, and has been lauded by local businesses for keeping the neighborhood clean and safe.

The Villagers have drawn a broad base of supporters from all over the city who have been inspired by their commitment to self-sufficiency and self-determination. Perhaps the Village and its vision for community might serve as an antidote to the Hobbesian moral vision espoused by the editors of The Oregonian.

-Laurie Mercier

Steve Duin (8/21/01):

Oregonian Editorial (8/22/01):

The City Council's August 30th meeting 24.Aug.2001 17:43

Jamie Manuel dignity@outofthedoorways.org

Supporters of Dignity Village should consider showing up for the City Council meeting on August 30th. Many of us will have to be at our jobs, but if you can make attend your voices could help sway the council.

Viva Dignity!