In my years of traveling helping to change the story of homelessness I must say Dignity Village is probably the coolest community I have experienced. A self-governed community of about 60 homeless people in Portland, Oregon, too me, stands as a unique model that we can solve homelessness, and also a slap in the face to homeless services that we were not able to help these people.
Started ten years ago Dignity Village is autonomous from the City of Portland and completely self-supported. Portland does provide the land where this “tent city” is located.
Even though Dignity Village is called a tent city it has evolved into so much more, as you can see by the photos I took that day here.
Homelessness is a result and not a cause. It’s through dignity people rebuild self-worth and start the road to healing. The main reason the current shelter system is broken is because we do not provide people the dignity needed to heal. I really wish homeless services would take a long hard look at Dignity Village and why it is a success. I also wish local governments would adopt this type solution before “bulldozing” tent communities because “moving” homelessness never solves the problem.
Meet one of the Dignity Village’s residents here.