PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — While some businesses and residents near a proposed new homeless pilot project are scared about it moving into their backyard, Commissioner Amanda Fritz hopes the Right 2 Dream Too camp can make the move in about a month.
The new site under the Broadway Bridge at Northwest Lovejoy and Station Way is a parking lot the city will allow the non-profit group to use for one-year as a pilot project.
Fritz said she will be doing neighborhood outreach and will meet with any neighborhood association group that wants to meet with her. About five dozen people packed into the Lovejoy Conference room at City Hall Monday afternoon.
Fritz called the new R2D-Too “rest area” an “alternative approach” to the overwhelming homeless problem in Oregon and says every night Portland has 1,800 men, women and children who are sleeping on our streets.
Mayor Charlie Hales supports her decision, Fritz said, and she also has “sent her plan to the other commissioners and none of them have shown any concern.”
The lawsuit by property owner Michael Wright against the city has been dismissed and the City of Portland is waiving $20,000 in fees against Right to Dream Too. The current location at 4th and Burnside property will be sold and “No Trespassing” signs will go up. Camping will not be allowed.
The “rest area” owners are asking that it be called a rest area because the city has a no camping ordinance, and their goal is to get the homeless into permanent housing and into work.
Natalie Finn, the manager of Urban Tan on 11th and Northrup, is nervous about the Right 2 Dream Too camp moving into the area. She said she’s already seen a sudden spike in aggressive men, apparently transients, coming into the tanning salon.
“Started cursing me out and yelling at me and as soon as I backed away he decided he would start swinging at me,” Finn told KOIN 6 News.
She said she keeps Mace handy — “a back-up one in the drawer and then I have one right here that I just put out here” — but she’s not worried about those living at Right 2 Dream Too. She’s worried about those who are turned away each night.
People who live in the nearby condos shared a similar sentiment with KOIN 6 News.
“These campers may be fine people who are trying to better themselves,” said neighbor Kim Bozich. “But there’s a lot of issues that come with it. I’m concerned where are they going to go, is it going to become a draw?”
The man who runs the Right 2 Dream Too camp said drugs, alcohol and violence aren’t allowed. The goal is for this to be a “rest area,” a stopping point for people looking for permanent housing and work. He said during the last two years, the camp helped more than 70 people like Kerstin Everett do just that.
“It’s a safe environment people can trust,” Everett said. “Served ladies who ran in the middle of the night from an abusive situation.”
Fritz says there will be a City Council meeting where members of the public will be able to voice their concerns to the commissioners before the 30-day contract agreement is written up. A vote is not required however, Fritz said.
There are still some road blocks, such as figuring out an electrical site, port-a-potties and setting up payment plans as well as moving the people living at the camp. KOIN 6 News was told that’s something the Right 2 Dream Too camp will be paying for on their own.
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