PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There’s a unique place in Portland where people experiencing homelessness can find shelter and maybe even a new purpose.
That place is called “Right 2 Dream Too.” It’s a self-managed homeless village on a city-owned lot across from the Moda Center that helps around 100 people get off the streets every night.
An estimated 3,800 people are currently thought to be living homeless in Portland.
A recent federal report found Oregon has one of the highest homeless populations in the United States at more than 14,000. The only states with higher tallies are California, New York, Florida, Texas, Washington and Massachusetts.
And it may be getting worse.
The number of homeless living in Oregon increased by nearly 13 percent between 2007 and 2018, according to report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Trillium Shannon co-founded Right 2 Dream Too in an effort to combat these statistics.
Right 2 Dream Too offers residents a place to stay and amenities like showers and restrooms.
While members don’t have to pay money to stay, they are expected to contribute in other ways. As a self-managed facility, Right 2 Dream Too relies on its residents to shoulder certain responsibilities, like providing 24-hour security, learning valuable skills and getting their lives back on track.
Shannon said the system is designed to help people “get the services they need and move on.”
Providing a place for people experiencing homelessness hasn’t been an easy, straightforward journey for Right 2 Dream Too.
The project started in 2011 at Northwest 4th and Burnside in Old Town on a lot that belonged to former adult bookstore owner Michael Wright.
But city officials started imposing fines on the camp and Right 2 Dream Too sued the city in 2012. The city reached a settlement with Right 2 Dream Too and agreed to work on finding it a new location.
It was a promise that’s proved to be extremely difficult to fulfill.
Land is expensive and hard to find. And many Portland residents don’t want a homeless camp in their neighborhood.
A developer pledged $800,000 to keep the camp out of the Pearl District. Attempts to move the camp to a Northwest Portland warehouse — or even the east-side Industrial District — fell through due to costs and neighborhood opposition.
Finally, the city allowed Right 2 Dream Too to move to the lot across from the Moda Center in 2017.
But that agreement is set to expire in April.
The money from the Pearl District developer helped finance Right 2 Dream Too after it left Old Town. Lately, it’s been running on donations and community partnerships.
Those donations, Shannon said, are harder to come by now that the camp is in a more inconspicuous location.
“You cannot only be profit-driven when you’re seeing that there is a crisis, a human rights crisis, really,” she said.