Some call them bums, some call them the less fortunate. For those of you who don't know what Dignity Village is, it is a group of somewhere between 60 and 70 homeless people who just need a place to lay their heads at night. The city of Portland does not want them sleeping on city land, and keeps fighting to move them from place to place. Who are these people living on the streets of Portland? They could be you..or me..in fact at one time, it was me. Some are bums, they prefer not to have a job, or any responsibilities. Some are mentally disturbed, or have other problems which keep them from being able to be responsible. Some are people who have come on hard times and are working towards getting off the street and becoming so-called "responsible members of society".
Let me give you an idea of what it is like to spend a night and a day being homeless......You make sure that you are in front of the shelter by 8:00 p.m. so that you are not the last in line for a place to sleep. The person in front of you is sloppy drunk, at least you know he won't get a bed, so that's one more space that might be available for you. The guy behind you is talking to his invisible friend about government conspiracies and how he's ready to kill anyone who he suspects of being a conspirator. Behind him is a man with a masters degree who just lost everything in a divorce and is trying to get back on his feet.....They finally open the doors to let people in for the night. After the guy with the invisible friend gets in they close the doors. The shelter is full. There are still a dozen men outside who will have to fend for themselves tonight. You are one of the lucky ones. You have a mat to sleep on, and a light blanket to cover you. You have to sleep with your shoes on, or you won't have them in the morning. You wake up in the morning, brush you teeth if you have a toothbrush, have a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit, and then its back out onto the street. It's Sunday, so if you have a job, its your day off. If you don't have a job, there's no place open to look for work, so you just hang out. Sitting on the sidewalk, watching the people go by...A guy with a boombox walks past and stops at the phone booth on the corner....someone else walks up to the phone booth, sticks a knife in the guy, and runs away with the boombox.....You wonder what happened to the people who didn't have a bed last night...........just another day on the street. Evening comes and you get ready to line up again. This is the scenario at numerous shelters around town.
Where should the people without a place to sleep go to? Do they not deserve to have any sort of dignity? The only difference between these people and the rest of society is that they do not have a place to call home. I don't have a solution, but Dignity Village is the best idea under current circumstances in the city of Portland.