Comments from a variety of people who really care about the homeless and are searching for lasting solutions.  Names removed.  The occasional highlight is mine.   –  Gerda

So if we are on the same page re housing first not being housing only, then the issue regarding the Portland village (and others) is that they are not providing treatment nor getting residents into treatment as a condition of their housing.  It seems that continued residency is not conditional on being sober/clean.  That is housing only.  A housing first initiative would require residents to enter into, and successfully complete, a treatment program that would result in a cessation of recreational drug use (including methadone) for residency to continue.  The villages do not have that as their model.  They are, thus, housing only.

Micro housing permits would, in the end, benefit developers at the time the land ceases to be a village.  If the goal is to integrate people into society as much as possible and to provide them with reasonable accommodations, as defined by those of us who are not addicted/ill, then the village should cease to exist when the need for treatment services has caught up with the population as a whole, which is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?  It would be very difficult/impossible to get the zoning changed on the land to prevent microhousing after the fact, and thus developers will get their wish to cram as many people on as little land as possible while keeping prices high.  I would not support a permit or zoning change for micro housing because it is a slippery slope and once we get used to the idea that it is “reasonable” accomodations then we are ready for the next step, which is increased micro housing across the city.  As it is happening in Vancouver, with no resultant relief from housing shortages or exorbitant rents and purchase costs.  It doesn’t solve anything but put more money into developers’ and realtors’ hands, and destroys neighbourhoods in the process.
No able-bodied person goes into micro housing if they have a choice (which most of us do, I am not interested in forcing the ill into micro housing as a choice between that and the street.  Not much choice there.  I want to be able to support giving people the choice between the street and reasonable accommodations, with the side effect being we don’t destroy our city with micro housing communities.  I want the choice of reasonable accommodation for myself, and I would be incensed if someone told me living in a space the size of a closet is good enough for me because I’m ill and that’s all I deserve, so how can I say such a thing to others?
That people would eagerly agree to living in micro housing as opposed to the street does not make such living “normal” anymore than living on the street is, despite the fact Pivot’s leeches got a court ruling essentially saying that it is.  The Emperor is still naked, and mucky-mucks lauding his fashion sense doesn’t change that.

The DTES [Downtown East Side] model.  But that model is housing first, with no restrictions based on sobriety, and on “harm reduction”, which is the same model being touted as the new solution everywhere.  It can be dressed up to look better, as in the Marguerite Hotel, but it still is rotten in its core, as in … the Marguerite Hotel.  And others.

Subject: Re: Portland dignity village

I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced by accepting what the police say vs. what independent reviews say.  It’s the same as what our province does, in justifying Insite, with skewed stats.  The truth is only revealed by independent sources.  I would expect the police to be thrilled to see addicted/ill people to be “housed” in one location, away from commercial and residential development, and would want that to continue enough to cast a positive light on the village whether it’s the truth or not.  I’m not so young nor so naive as to believe the police can’t, and don’t, lie.  But what do the industrial neighbours say?  What are the overall stats, independently collected and researched?  That’s where the truth lies, and until they’re there for all to see the truth is not known.  And why there isn’t interest in getting those independent stats is what concerns me most.  Is everyone so invested in this panacea that they don’t want to know the truth?

The article, and other articles I’ve seen regarding the village, clearly state that they do not prohibit active users.  So, if the truth is that the active users are prohibited? why is there a provision for them?  And where are the independent stats?
The article, and others I’ve read, clearly state the intention for this village or for a similar type of housing situation, to be a permanent fixture in years to come.  That is their clear goal.  That is not a goal of eradicating homelessness but clearly of cementing it.
I will do my best to answer.
1.The Village is in a light industrial area.Police reports are consistently positive. The Chief of Police has said it is not considered a problem  area n the city.
2. This Village does not allow active addicts to live there. Those who cause problems for others or themselves are referred to agencies that can help them or evicted.. There are residents with mental illness  but they function well in a closed supportive community and participate in ways they are able to do so.
3. Can’t answer what he long term goals for Portland are but imagine they are similar to other cities trying to eradicate homelessness and poverty etc.
One thing to keep in mind is that Dignity Village has been in existence since 2001. Some prefer to live there, others have moved on but it has succeeded as a safe and stable community for 15 years!
If the city built co-op housing or share housing that replicated the self management would the residents move?
Chances are,if the housing was made up of self contained tiny houses, many would. If it was shared or apartment style, many would not.
At this point it is a good model and many have found better lives because of it. Opportunity Village is a better model for Abby Digs as they have oversight by a non-profit and services are integrated into the overall management.


Subject: Re: Portland dignity village


It’s a glowing article, to be sure, but it doesn’t seem to have objectivity as its intent.  How does this village affect residents nearby?  What are the stats on how well the village has dealt with the issues of addiction and mental illness (the article states that residents do not have to be abstinent so it appears that recovery from addiction is not their mandate, which makes me wonder what the point is, then)?  Too little praise, not enough (or none at all) facts, makes me nervous, as if I’m being sold something for someone else’s good.  If this isn’t a bandaid solution then what are the long-term goals for sobriety, treatment and permanent housing that is not micro and is part of the city as a whole?

I agree that there are those who are very damaged.  That is what Riverview and other institutions are for, if we are to treat them properly.  With time, many of them could heal enough to then live in the community, with enough supports in place.  But others are not capable of doing so and require institutionalization.  And those that never want help, well, I don’t understand why that is their choice.  It isn’t doing them or society any good to let them do as they please.  We used to have laws that prevented people from living on the street and I don’t understand why we aren’t hollering for those laws to be brought back.  It forces people into treatment and gets them help even when they’re not cooperative.  We already know the choices they make are very poor, many of them as a result of their illnesses and thus they are often not able to actually make good choices, so we are actually perpetuating the sickness by allowing people to continue to hurt themselves (and others).

 With Insite, methodone, “harm reduction”, housing that does not require being clean – with all these things we act as enablers, which means we become a significant part of the problem.  The first lesson, above all, when dealing with addicts is to NOT enable them, to not get involved in any way in helping them continue their addiction.  Now there is so much pressure to throw that successful model out of the window.  There’s an agenda here, and it’s not for the good of anyone.


Addiction, illness, and poverty are huge issues that housing does not solve.  But the article does not delve into anything but the feel-good, and does not explore how these issues are still the same in the community around the village.  So, while the village does provide shelter, it does not actually solve anything, at least not according to the article.  I don’t like articles like this because I don’t like feeling pressured to “buy” what they are “selling”, and wonder why, if it’s such a success, I can’t be told all the facts to see for myself, instead of hiding the truth via omission.  It has left me warier than ever about a village like that here.

Excerpt from Tom Fletcher, below:
(I took this photo at 240 St. and the Fraser Hwy. a few days ago.  From Vancouver to Abbotsford you can see homeless camping on public and private land.
Help the helpless, but don’t provide the poisons that created these abysmal problems in the first place.

Over the past few decades of interacting with addicts I can only conclude that X is right.  House them for sure, and as fast as possible, but get the real help to these people.  They are imprisoned by bars as strong as any prison enclosure.  Often the preamble to 12-Step meetings is that continued use of their peculiar addictions lead only to “JAILS, INSTITUTIONS AND DEATH.”   –  Gerda)