An in-depth look at Dignity Village

·                 "If you want it enough, you can make it work." Jon Hawes, a resident and tour guide of Dignity Village, gives a piece of advice to any person potentially facing homelessness. Dignity Village, located on Sunderland street in NE Portland, was created ten years ago. The Village has prospered and come very far within the last ten years. At first it started underneath the Freemont Bridge and slowly became more permanent. It began as a true tent-city, like other states such as Texas and Washington have, but no longer is considered a tent-city, but rather a Village. The Village is gated in, and on the blackboard the city of Portland gave to the Village, are little houses.  Dignity Village is anything but a tent-city, so much, in fact, that tents are not allowed in Dignity Village. Each house is built out of donated materials, many built out of recycled materials. Some of the houses have murals painted on the sides, all done by volunteer artists from the Portland area. Each house is raised 18 inches off the ground to avoid a rodent problem. Despite the negative outlook city officials had about Dignity Village, the Village has been continuing to succeed and strive for a long ten years now. 
              Dignity Village is a very structured place, but there are only five rules to abide by while inside the community. The five rules are all very basic; No violence, No theft, No alcohol/drugs, No constant disruptive behavior, and Everyone must contribute at least 10 hours per week to better the Village (i.e.- picking up garbage, chopping wood) Only 60 residents are allowed to live in the Village, the number was determined by the city. J.Hawks, the Dignity Village tour guide, did not see the number to be unfit. He agreed that with only 60 residents allowed, it is easier to keep things peaceful and organized. Almost anyone can live in the community, though you may be waitlisted until a house opens up. The Village allows any homeless person to live in the community, as long as they are over the age of eighteen. No one under eighteen can live in Dignity Village, which excludes people with kids to move into the Village. Those are the only two residential requirements, must be homeless and over the age of eighteen. When you arrive at the Village and are interested in moving there, you can give them any name you want when you arrive. As the tour guide, Jon Hawes said, "Who you were, or are, outside of the fence is your business. What you do outside of the fence does not matter. You could even say you want to be called, "Deep Dish", from that moment on- we will refer to you as Deep Dish. No questions asked." The Village has 43+ cats, and seven dogs. They allow as many cats as possible, but only will house seven dogs. 
               There are a few things most people don't know about Dignity Village. One thing is that each resident must pay $20/month to live in the community. The money they pay goes toward paying the water bill, electricity, cable and wireless internet. Another interesting fact about the community is the fact that they have wireless internet. The wireless internet is not only for residents, either. Anyone from the area can come to Dignity Village between the hours of 8AM-10PM and use the internet, sit inside the 'common area', watch television, warm up and just relax. Any person from outside of Dignity Village can also use the showers within the visitor hours. The gate is always open during the hours listed above, and anyone is welcome to come check out the Dignity Village community.