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. For me, self-governed community of about 60 homeless people in Portland, Oregon 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.
Flickr Creative Commons: Credit Mark Horvath
Started 10 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 that 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.