Dignity Village, Portland: Viable Template for Addressing Homelessness?

Yesterday’s post made me look up “dignity village.”

Dignity Village aerial

Dignity Village started in 2000 as a migrating tent city in Portland, Oregon. In 2004, it settled down.


In November, 2012, the city of Portland extended its contract by three years. From this short article, it looks like the Portland City Council did it by whittling away at the idea of Dignity Village as a genuine alternative way of life, declaring it a transition zone, and limiting stays to two years.

But why not a permanent way of life? I ask. What’s so great about the way we live now, in permanent debt to banks for houses that are usually way too big (and in Bloomington, can contain “no more than three unrelated people”) on lots devoted to grass instead of growing our own food, sitting in front of screens that simulate “real life” rather than actually living. Oh, and I forgot: ignoring our neighbors. Simply ignoring them as we hurry — no let’s make that hurtle — from here to there to nowhere, trying to “pay the bills” for lifestyles that worship materialism at the expense of what really matters, relationships! — or as the Native Americans would say, “all our relations” — all of them, with the sky above, the earth below, and all the denizens of this busy busy world who, usually, no matter how misguided, or ignorant, or blind to infinite abundance and possibility — are all doing the very best they can.

Oh yeah, and notice how the headline labels it a “camp” — one more way of vilifying what could be a homegrown, creative — and yes, dignified! — way to work with the fraying edge of collapsing military/industrial capitalist culture.

Portland grants three-year contract to Dignity Village camp

November 28, 2012

by Beth Slovic

The Oregonian

dignity village.JPGA resident of Dignity Village repairs a generator to power his home last year.Tyler Tjomsland/The Oregonian

The Portland City Council advanced a three-year contract extension with Dignity Village Wednesday morning, completing a process that’s been stymied by multiple delays.The new contract — which moved forward on Nov. 14 but passed the City Council on Nov. 28 — creates a two-year time limit for residents at the transitional housing campground.

Located in North Portland on property owned by the city, Dignity Village didn’t start out as a city-sanctioned camp. It started in 2000 as a migrating tent city that in 2004, with the City Council’s blessing, morphed into a more permanent campground for about 60 formerly homeless residents.

It’s had contracts with the city to occupy the land ever since. The latest version adds the two-year time limit (with some exceptions) and puts in writing the Fire Bureau’s safety checklist at the site.

A.K.: Go to the story above, for Comments. They flesh out the situation more. Also, dignity Village has a website. However it’s sketchy, and seems to have been neglected for the past year or so. Here’s one way of talking about it, from one of the residents:

Welcome to Dignity Village,We are happy to have a working website again.
The site is still adding new things as we speak. Over the next few weeks we should have more things for everyone to read.The one question most readers have is, what is dignity village?I would often tell them , it is a stepping stone in life.When people find there selves living on the streets, either in doorways, or under bridges, or the wooded area’s along roads. There comes a time when it take’s it’s toll on them. They start standing out, instead of blending in. Trying to maintain that blend is lost. The best they can do is survive.

Getting back to a standard normal way of life, is simply a dream now. Someday I will have this and that. Reality of the real world brings them back to disappointment.

This is where Dignity Village comes in. The village offers many ways for people to get back on there feet again. The standard shelters systems just can’t provide all the things one needs to get back up on there feet again all in one place. It is to broken up and spread out. Sometimes you have stand in a line half the day to get a shower and the other half of the day to get a bed to sleep on. You pretty much wait in line for everything. It don’t leave you any time to go out and find a job.

Dignity Village provides all these needs and offers services like computers for online job search, and a phone center, where employers can reach them 24/7 for work.

Dignity village was built by homeless people that simply wanted change . They wanted there Dignity and self respect back.

Dignity Village started in the year 2000. They went from tents, and tarp covered two by four huts, to small houses, which you can see today.

Dignity Village is one place that takes people off the streets and gives them a place to rebuild there lives. Some people need short term help, others may need a life time. They took what they had and combined there efforts to helping each other, with support without shame.

I googled “Dignity Village photos” and there’s gobs of them. Check it out!

This entry was posted in 2013, local action, new economy, unity consciousness, visions of the future, waking up. Bookmark the permalink.

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