CONTACT: Ron Wold, 503-493-0740
Kate Lore, 503-228-6389, x44
Noon on Thursday, February 26, 2004 on the steps of City Hall (4th Street entrance)
DIGNITY VILLAGE RESOLUTION COMES BEFORE CITY
In November, talk radio host Lars Larson reached past the city government and filed a complaint with the Oregon Building Code Division because Dignity Village's buildings and structures fail to comply with standard building code. Working with our supporters, including lawyers from the Oregon Law Center and the premier Portland land-use firm, Ball Janik, Dignity Village is asking the City Council today to officially designate its current site as a "campground" under ORS 446.252. Thus designated, the Village will be able to move forward to realizing its dream of creating a transitional community and sustainable eco-village.
Longtime Village supporter, Commissioner Erik Sten, is willing to go the first step and has crafted a campground-declaration resolution with Commissioner Randy Leonard that will go before the City Council today. Another old Dignity ally, City Repair, a local urban design activist group, has worked collaboratively with Village residents to craft a proposal presenting a complete redesign of the site and structures and addressing virtually every concern the City Council has raised about the Village. With a thumbs-up council vote, City Repair and Villagers are ready to build a series of prototype passive solar, straw-and-clay structures in late May.
"I think it's a win-win for the city and the Village," said city code specialist Jim Harris, who has worked with Dignity to figure out the fire, life and safety issues of their plan. "It could be a model for the rest of the state and maybe the country."
Classical American writer and Portland resident Ursula K. Le Guin is a long-time Dignity Village supporter. In a letter to Mayor Katz and the City Commissioners Le Guin writes, "I am particularly impressed, during our current money drouth, at the saving to taxpayers Dignity Village can offer. The Village gives homeless people shelter without pauperizing or punishing them; it provides true, meaningful community, and offers those ready to accept it a real chance at transition back to working life; and it does this at less cost than the shelters. How can we, as a city, not back such a project? Indeed I would like us to boast about it."
"I'm hopeful of winning this designation today," said Dignity vice-chair Jack Tafari, "mek Portland shine like a beacon of light for its progressive and enlightened approach in dealing with homelessness and the current lack of affordable housing." Village chair Ron Wold agrees. "Giving us this designation today will provide Portland one of many possible strategies for dealing with these issues."