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I too am trying to stay calm. It’s easy to take cheap shots at what I posted about a former sanctioned camp that that Les Warden referred to that the City is currently in litigation after a home owner’s home was caught on fire. He wasn’t there, I was there often and even stayed over occasionally. It had open drug use, rampant theft (even from Red Cross), drug dealing and domestic abuse to the extreme. Everyone signed a Code of Conduct that was never followed. It was a sewer but more appropriate it was “Lord of the Flies”. I was asked to create an enforceable “Good Neighbor Agreement” that was legally binding but the camp dwellers had already violated it over and over.
That being said to clarify, my posting was to amplify the need to have a Code of Conduct that is enforced. I also provided a synopsis of why R2D2 works. The City of Portland may not be receptive to additional organized camps because of the pending litigation with the home owner.
To entice the City to not only sanction an organized camp but to be a partner in any project they have to feel comfortable in doing so, they do not like being pulled
into court. Any project would need
1.) A Code of Conduct
2.) A Good Neighbor Agreement
3.) Liability Insurance
I offered examples of what
works and what does not work, it was never intended to be an indictment on all homeless.
Thank you for allowing me to clarify my position
I’m trying to be calm. And it’s not too hard to do given participants like John Elizalde and his swirling ideas that are such a good blend of heart, possible next steps, outlines of problem areas, and bottom line a recognition that self run organized camp areas should or even must be a significant part of the solution to the puzzle that homelessness represents. Some (if not most) of David Dickson’s contributions to the discussion are also positive. He is totally right in listing other puzzle pieces that need placement in the solution to homelessness. Pieces like micro camps, tiny house villages, and even large emergency shelters during bad weather.
However for the life of me I can’t figure out why people who seem to have a fairly solid handle on the scope and complexity of the issue. Seem to have empathy. And even demonstrate a can do optimism that the various interests can be balanced and the problem solved. But then I take a second look and without having to read between the lines a picture emerges in which intentional or not I see the distinct possibility that what many people on this site are after isn’t a war on homelessness but rather a war on the homeless themselves.
Forgive me if I am distrustful about the motives of the housed. I have been out here well over a decade. To me the biggest problem faced by the homeless isn’t the grinding poverty amidst plenty, isn’t the specific lack of adequate nutrition, or the substandard health care. It isn’t more broadly the lack of standard housing - the cold of winter or the heat waves of Summer. Even the infuriating over policing or the life disrupting sweeps are not the biggest problem. Instead it is the myriad ways the housed citizens here communicate their disdain of, their disrespect for, their disgust over how we live, eat, dress, or even how we work collecting bottles, scrapping, repairing bikes. One of the few things we can count on day in and day out is that we will be looked down on, that we will hear derogatory put downs and jokes from those who walk by. More likely though is that people will cross the street to avoid us. The unfair judgement by so many (even children) is simply an everyday reality in plain sight etched on their faces and reflected in their eyes.
Of course this is not the case for all citizens but those citizens are clearly in the minority otherwise we wouldn’t so consistently elect politicians and end up with all the anti-homeless public policies that persist year after year and decade after decade. The vast majority just want us to disappear. The use of sweeps while almost never taking us to court with any type of due process makes it clear that sweeps are not a law enforcement endeavor but rather a conscious plan to constantly harass us. To what end?
To make us disappear. To drive us out of town or drive us to suicide or force us into mass shelters or coax us into camps in places we don’t want to be and with people we don’t want to see.
So, forgive me but I’m skeptical and distrustful of what housed people say and do even when they appear to be do-gooders like so many on this site.
I can’t help but think for all their seeming concern for the homeless and their calls for better governmental policy, it may all just be a smokescreen, a sugar coated pill to get us to go along with the real plan of just making the homeless not homelessness disappear. Out of sight out of mind which both mass shelters and camps accomplish. Meanwhile all of it is clearly motivated by the often clearly stated goal of justifying much more vigorous and probably violent sweeps that don’t just harass and take/destroy belongings but also include arrests, enhanced charges, and longer periods of incarceration. After all with shelters (whether indoors or outdoors) plus all the other oh so swell transitional and low income housing options how can anyone fail to go along to get along. Thus justifying more and more devastating sweeps.
Hell, local officials (pushed by the corporate elite and backed by the majority of citizens), won’t wait for all your camps and diverse options to be in place before they step up their sweeping. As soon as a couple seemingly new things are in the pipeline they will point to how they are providing solutions that leave no excuse for any more unauthorized camping. By demonizing the homeless by using the rap that camping on public property is wrong, that those who camp on sidewalks are lawless, an eyesore, and a threat to public health wealth and apple pie (or as put somewhere in this thread describing campers as violent, drug fueled, sewer dwellers) the whole negative narrative about the homeless and the justification for sweeps is firmed up even more.
On top of that even many in the public who are actually concerned about the homeless will be somewhat mollified by all the promises of programs (camps and more) that may or may not come and even if they did they will probably not be as rosy as you envision.
By the way who determines exactly when things are rosy enough? David Dickson (on this thread) says ‘the goal of our programs should be to give everyone enough options so that they can choose the right one for themselves. Sounds good but what does that mean? Who and how is it to be determined that there are enough options? It won’t just be obvious like Dickson makes it sound. The more options the higher the cost. There will be pressures initially and at any point in the future to limit the options in both quantity and quality. Is there a threshold at which it’s understandable that a person would not want to choose any of your options?
What’s worse and feeds into my questions about priorities and motives is that Dickson next says, "once we hit this point (wherein the homeless have adequate options) we as a community will have the legal and moral authority to ban all ad hoc camping." Then he goes on at length [..] about how we are a threat to ourselves, [...] to community health. I gotta say I am sick and tired of hearing that line. [...] So many on this site or in government may sound like they care but when it comes to the important matters like when are there enough options [...] just more of the same.The same old painting of the homeless [...]. The same old [...] goal of making us disappear. The same old justifications for sweeps, maybe even harsher ones because this stupid charade came wrapped in such a pretty bow of b***sh*t.
[..] - edited by moderator for community policy.
John, I love your effort and I love the fact that you added, "Everyone reading this will recognize that nothing here is new or remarkable."
This is entirely true, but some of our leading advocates and policy makers keep saying, "We must find new ideas on how to combat homelessness. Those words just serve as a distraction and allow some to just kick the proverbial can down the proverbial road.
We don't have to reinvent the wheel, we just need to place actionable items in front of those who have the authority to foster the action.
Blessing to each of you, I remain in awe of your wisdom and grace.
I'm thinking there needs to be a blending of ideas swirling here.
A. expand existing villages where possible and soon. Need a team doing that now.
- Land: the city has land and is unable to make decisions about freeing it up for the houseless. There is too much turf, bureaucracy and inertia and we have so many examples of that in practice.
- Land: Private entities have land and are likely to have liability and clean up concerns. Solve this and then see #10.
- Liability: we'd need the city/county to assume liability, no small ask.
- Residents: Mandatory = incarceration in the minds of many = DOA. Voluntary = site would need to be attractive to potential residents. And, we really don't want to spend a year or two conducting a survey of potential residents to find out they'd prefer a hotel room and won't go to a remote, hard to get to and hard to escape gravel lot on some windswept desert. We have enough coalition folk who have lived or living experience with what would make a site attractive. Seems a key is that it would need space for current campsites where people already know each other and have a sense of relationship to relocate easily, safely with the assurance that their posse is going to be together in the new place.
- Self-governed: yes, and with a new model: A large space, capable of housing a hundred or more residents who self-divide into pre-existing camp-groups would need an operating model where each camp-group participates in the governing structure. Lots of expertise in town for such a system.
- Hygiene/sanitation: Here is where the private sector steps up. The money wars in city/county structure won't be able to spit out enough cash to support these necessities. Perhaps the CARES money or the 26/210 money could be freed up - perhaps. And, with the Joint Office being thrown under the bus this week who is going to bet on speedy city/county funding from any source?
- Food: Here is the 'attractive piece'. Why move with my current neighbors into another spot? To have a toilet, shower, garbage service, no sweeps, rules you helped write and 3 meals a day. Here is where the private sector and community writ large steps up. Feel free to charge a few bucks a meal with vouchers given to those who do work (hmm, where have a heard of this?).
- Bottle return: this seems like a necessity for people struggling for cash who have established a proven ability to collect and cash in cans.
- Social Services: provide space for willing agencies to apply their hard won city/county funding to these clients.
- Day to day management: There are many agencies capable of doing this once the money is solved.
- Transportation: very tough question given that open land and such services are not always coincident.
- Money: solve this and get out of the way as there is energy, passion and expertise aplenty to make this happen.
Everyone reading this will recognize that nothing here is new or even very remarkable. We need a team to find the land and a team to crack open the piggy bank. ONWARD
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