Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Director's Desk from Street Roots

Street Roots and Sisters Of The Road delivered more than 2,000 postcards to City Hall last week asking that the council suspend the camping and sit-lie ordinances.

It’s clear that Portlanders care about the civil rights of individuals experiencing homelessness. It’s unclear if Portland can develop any out-of-the-box methods as an alternative to the criminalization of people sleeping without shelter.

A supporter recently asked Street Roots why we continue to advocate for the abolishment of the camping and sidewalk laws when it’s clear City Hall is not moving on the issue.

Beyond being the No. 1 issue, short of housing itself, that our community has identified over the years, our response was that many of the laws that have unfairly stripped the rights of groups of individuals throughout our history have been met with blind resistance by bureaucracies for decades, sometimes centuries at a time. Often times those laws were perpetuated and kept in place due to public unrest driven by misconceptions, newspaper editorial boards and powerful economic and business interests that believed things like Jim Crow and anti-Okie laws were necessary to keep order and in the best interest of the general public.

Individuals living without homes in America are human beings and have every much of a right to exist in a community as anyone else, especially considering that law enforcement methods are costly and continue to contribute to a person’s criminal history, which is one of the biggest barriers in overcoming homelessness. It’s clear to that the camping and sidewalk laws target people on the streets, and until these laws are taken off the books we must continue the fight.

With your help, Street Roots met its spring goal of raising $20,000. We can’t thank you enough. Your support is going to empower vendors with the supplies and environment needed to be successful, while helping to publish a professional street paper that supports vendors and informs the community on a range of social justice issues.

We also received grants in May from Larson Legacy, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Autzen Foundation, Charis Fund, the McKenzie River Gathering and the Rose L. Tucker Foundation.

The funding from these great foundations is going to a range of different projects, including improving the Rose City Resources, organizing and giving vendors voice and to help fund specific pages in the newspaper. Big thanks to all of the foundations that support Street Roots. We look forward to working with all of our supporters over the next year to give voice, provide economic opportunities and deliver you a professional street newspaper.


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Anonymous said...

I'm homeless and frankly I don't see much of a problem with the sit-lie ordinance. All it does, so far as I understand it, is prevent people from behaving in an unseemly way in public places. I mean, the only people I see sitting or laying around on the sidewalks downtown are congealed masses of Road Warriors flotsam with their dogs or people obviously inebriated. There's being a human being, and there's acting like one; clowns belong in a circus to me, not a public place where people are trying to get from Point A to Point B without be accosted by disrespectful slouches with an entitlement complex or having to step over or around some shameless wasto.

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