Right 2 Dream Too rallies at City Hall on World Homeless Day

Right 2 Dream Too rallies at City Hall on World Homeless Day
A small group of demonstrators gathered outside City Hall on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 to not only bring the issues of homelessness to the forefront on World Homeless Day, but also to rally against fines from the city. Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com Producer/Reporter.

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PORTLAND, Ore. - A small group of demonstrators gathered outside Portland City Hall on Wednesday to not only bring the issues of homelessness to the forefront on World Homeless Day, but also to rally against fines from the city.

The rally was organized by Right 2 Dream Too, a homeless rest area at Northwest 4th and Burnside in Old Town. Wednesday also marked the one-year anniversary of the rest area, which is a temporary place where those on the street can find refuge.

The rest area has been fined by the city for code violations and the rally was part of the ongoing effort by its organizers to get those fines lifted.

We talked to Right 2 Dream Too board member Lisa Fay about the group's message. While they were there first and foremost to try to get the fines waived, they also wanted people to realize that homelessness is still a big problem in Portland.

"(We want) to bring awareness to the fact that people in the city who are homeless still don't have places to go," Fay said. "We want people to understand that the shelter systems have waiting lists and that they are often three to six months and there is no place for people to go in the meantime."

"There's not enough affordable housing," Fay added. "We're not saying that we're a social service or an end all to the houseless situation, but we are one cost effective way to get houseless people off the street and into an area that's safe and secure for them."

We also asked Fay to comment on some of the misconceptions that folks might have about the Right 2 Dream Too rest area on Burnside, which is marked by a barrier of doors that were erected to cordon off the block for tents and structures.

"The fear that drugs and violence and destruction of property would increase because we are there," she said. "So far, it has gone down. We police the whole block, not just our block. We keep the partying crowd on the weekends under control."

The Right 2 Dream Too rest area at Northwest 4th and Burnside in downtown Portland (photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com Producer/Reporter.

And what does the rest area mean for those who do not have a place to call home?

"By having the rest area, people feel a sense of empowerment and that they are not necessarily being forgotten," Fay said. "That we do have people surrounding them that care, that are looking out for their best interest, that want to uplift you and empower you to do better."

In addition to the morning rally outside City Hall, Right 2 Dream Too organized other events throughout the day. An open house with lunch and cake is planned at the camp from noon to 2 p.m., followed by a fashion show at 3 p.m. There will also be a sleeping bag and blanket drive. The public is welcome to participate in any of the day's activities.

Following the rally, the Right 2 Dream Too group headed into City Hall to testify before the City Council.

Mark Hubbell, a member of the group, was one of those who spoke to the mayor and city council members. His message was a heartfelt plea for the city to understand its homeless population.

"They really are very caring and very substantial people," he said. "They have a lot to offer. Society will not see it this way and does not see it this way. We are termed invisible. We've been made to be invisible and this is an absolute injustice against not only our universal, but constitutional, right."


Mark Hubbell, a member of Right 2 Dream Too, addresses the Portland City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. KATU photo.

Hubbell also asked that the city understand that the Right 2 Dream Too rest area is working and is something that he feels is beneficial for the homeless community.

"I go out on outreaches every week and I see these people. I look them in the eye. I ask them how they are doing. And we talk about what we can do for them - the services that we can provide. And they are very simple stuff - help us get in touch with the job market, help us get in touch with social services, help us get a blanket or a little bit of food."

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