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actions & protests | homelessness

Pitch A Tent II--the Houseless Strike Back

The Grand Floral Parade will never be the same again, thanks to Right to Survive (R2S) and houseless activists. This is the second year that R2S, an organization led by houseless and previously houseless people, put out a call for "Pitch A Tent II?The Houseless Strike Back." Together with folks from Right 2 Dream Too (R2DToo), they invited friends and supporters to pitch tents with the houseless along the parade route downtown to protest against the city's ordinance, which allows people to put up tents for 1 day for the parade, but criminalizes setting up tents for survival for the rest of the year.

Ibrahim Mubarak, co-founder of R2S, R2DToo and Dignity Village, wanted this year's action to put pressure on city officials, who continue to drag their feet on the houseless issue. He made clear that this action shows how the city prosecutes houseless people who try to erect shelters for themselves, but the ultimate goal of R2S is to get folks off the street and into a designated area where they can be safe and take care of one another. He hopes that this action will bring awareness that there is a homeless crisis in Portland and nationwide. He said, "The city needs to "sit down at the table with us and come up with solutions that will put a dent in the houseless situation."

Mubarak talked about Right 2 Dream Too, which provides a safe place for about 90 people to camp every night on NW 4th and Burnside, as one of the solutions. R2DToo wants to expand housing for 300 people per night, as more and more people lose their jobs and homes due to the crippling economy. But instead of cooperating with them, or letting them continue to self-manage this space, the city is fining R2DToo $1,200 a month. He said that Dan Saltzman, who leads the Bureau of Development Services, has described it as "not a humanitarian issue; it's about zoning and codes." Mubarak pointed out that the city spent $3,400 for each "bike shelter" in the city, but won't budget a dime to provide more solutions for the houseless. He said that the houseless and their supporters are trying to build communities and shelters for themselves, where they can be autonomous and make decisions to maintain safety and human rights.

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