Friday, September 21, 2012

Ashland, Oregon considers similar Village Model

By the Associated Press

Three representatives from Portland's Dignity Village homeless encampment plan to visit Ashland later this month to discuss whether a similar setup would benefit the southern Oregon city.  

The Dignity Village representatives will have discussions with the community and City Council, the Ashland Daily Tidings reported Saturday.   

Organizers in Ashland have raised $360 to fund the visit.  

"We have people in Ashland who believe this should be thought about and discussed," said Sangye Tendzin, a member of the Ashland Citizens for the Homeless Coalition. "If Portland has a model that works, then we can scale it here."  

Dignity Village was founded in 2000 when eight homeless men and women decided to pitch tents on public land, saying they had nowhere else to go. It quickly evolved into a self-regulating, city-recognized "campground," and was given a patch of land near Portland International Airport.  

Dignity Village offers its 60 occupants showers, a kitchen area, Internet access and emergency transportation.  
The village, which harbors tarp-tents, straw-bale bungalows, teepees, wooden shacks and pitched tents, costs about $3,000 a month to maintain, its website states, which it funds through donations.  

Children are not allowed to live in the village, and members must abide by rules against violence, drugs, stealing and disruptive behavior.  

Tendzin visited the encampment in July and provided a report to Ashland's Homelessness Steering Committee, a panel that makes recommendations to the City Council on how to address homeless issues.  

Councilwoman Carol Voisin said a Dignity Village-type arrangement could benefit Ashland, but only if the local homeless community is willing to make it work.  

Tendzin believes there are enough "self-determined" homeless people in Ashland to support a place like Dignity Village, but he acknowledges there will be opposition, too.  

"The community has to want an encampment for this to work," he said. "These discussions will be a good opportunity for understanding." 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

WOW Hall Exhibit

For the month of September, the Community Center for the Performing Arts will host Opportunity Village Eugene - An Exhibit in the Lobby Art Gallery at the WOW Hall.

Opportunity Village has evolved from the mayor's Opportunity Eugene Task Force, which asked community members to recommend new and innovative ways for dealing with the City's growing homeless population. The village aims to provide a self-governing community of alternative housing for the unhoused in a drug, alcohol and violence free environment. This exhibit displays the initial planning stages for Opportunity Village including conceptual illustrations, designs for compact dwellings, and a precedence study of Portland's Dignity Village. Stop by and check it out!

The WOW Hall Lobby Art Gallery is open for viewing during office hours, 3:00 to 6:00 pm Monday and noon to 6:00 pm Tuesday through Friday. The WOW Hall is located at the corner of 8th and Lincoln in Eugene. For more information, please call 541-687-2746.