The Rose Quarter, it seems, has embraced Right 2 Dream Too.
In a joint statement Tuesday, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Amanda Fritz's offices announced the homeless rest area had inked a "good neighbor agreement" [PDF] with nearby business and neighbor groups, the city, and Portland Police, partly with a goal of developing "a successful model together that other neighborhoods can look to as a template and replicate in their community."
The non-binding contract—which includes buy-in from the Lloyd District Community Association (LDCA) and Rip City Management, the operator of the Rose Quarter—is a rare point of agreement as visible homelessness continues to be a flashpoint in many pockets of the city. Other neighborhoods and organized camps have been utterly unable to arrive at similar arrangements.
But the Rose Quarter—more commercial and industrial than residential in many places—has come to the table.
“As a resident of the Lloyd, I am happy to have Right 2 Dream Too as part of my community,” LDCA member Keith Jones is quoted as saying in the city's release. “In the short time they have been here, they have become an active and positive contributor to our neighborhood. I also am very pleased with the way that the community as a whole has pulled together to welcome and support R2DToo.”
The bonhomie is so complete, apparently, that the neighborhood is working up a "fundraiser and celebration welcoming R2DToo to the District, on a date to be announced later this fall," the city's release says.
Before that happens, though, the City of Portland might want to work up paperwork allowing R2DToo to use its land.
When the rest area moved to the city-owned Rose Quarter plot in May—a last-ditch effort by Wheeler's staff—it inked an agreement with Portland officials formally allowing it to use the space. That agreement has now been expired for nearly a week.
"The R2DToo Use Agreement expiration was 10/6/17," Deputy City Attorney Linda Law wrote to Wheeler advisor Berk Nelson and David O'Longaigh, the city's facilities manager, yesterday evening. "It is my understanding that, per Berk, the City would want to extend."
To the email, Law attached a possible amendment to the use agreement, which would extend it until September 30, 2018, the date by which the mayor's office has said R2DToo should be off the Rose Quarter land. The amendment also includes formal permissions for the rest area to use "sleeping pods"—tiny homes without power or plumbing—on the property (which it's been doing since May, but which wasn't formally allowed under its use agreement).
Law's email and draft amendment came not long after the Mercury inquired whether the city had extended the use agreement past its October 6 expiration. Asked whether our question had jogged the mayor's office's memory, Wheeler spokesperson Michael Cox denied that it had.
"We had attorneys on the case," Cox insists. The mayor's office, he says, was waiting on the City Council's October 4 vote to extend the city's housing state of emergency before dealing with the R2DToo agreement (the camp is one of several homeless services sites that relies on the emergency to be able to use the land they're on).
The good neighbor agreement signed by R2DToo and others is fairly straightforward. It sets out specific expectations for each of the parties, dictates that everyone involved must communicate and respect one another, and has a provision that all parties will meet once a month for the next six months, at least.
Among the unique responsibilities laid out in the agreement:
•R2DToo is responsible for documenting "ancillary campers in adjacent/surrounding areas," and for informing other groups when it ejects people due to violations of its code of conduct.
•The Lloyd Enhanced Services District agrees to help R2DToo members connect with job openings and find grant opportunities.
•The LDCA will "create a forum where R2DToo can help educate other residents and members of the LDCA in issues surrounding houselessness and address concerns, fears or misconceptions..."
"We do know there are challenges," Jones, the LDCA member quoted in the city's release, tells the Mercury. "We do know there will be problems. When something comes up, we’ll sit down together and figure it out. We know that we are still early into our relationship so we don’t have a lot of experience racked up yet, but we have communication and that is key."