Volunteer groups are determined to keep feeding houseless despite new City rules

By CORY ELIA

Offering consistent food-related support to the houseless and food insecure residents throughout Portland is the mission of several volunteer groups.

However, due to a new City permit requirement proposed by Commissioner Nick Fish, these services will either be drastically reduced or completely shut down.

“Is the city gonna pick up the slack of the people out here doing the work or will they leave their citizen out in the cold starving?”

Kristle Delihanty of PDX Saints

Free Hot Soup is one service group, and on any given weeknight, they feed anywhere from 50 to 200 individuals in downtown’s Directors Park.

Portland Park Rangers confront / speaks with Free Hot Soup volunteers.

editor’s note: One of the Free Hot Soup volunteers reached out to us and said he thought the word “confronts” in the caption above was a mis-characterization. He said that the ranger passed out envelopes saying that the volunteers didn’t need permits or insurance. In the spirit of honoring people’s agency in having their own story told as they see fit— I wanted to include that feedback.

My thinking was / is: all officers of the law should be respectful and friendly as they exercise their duties, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they’re doing their job enforcing laws / rules. Having one’s actions be addressed by an officer carries a lot of weight and potential for escalation (especially since the volunteers were serving without a permit), which is why we used the term “confront” rather than a less aggressive term. – ATW

According to the Oregonian‘s reporting, the permit will limit social services to only being able to serve once a week in a location, and requires groups to file a $137.75 application fee and obtain insurance.

Several volunteers say the City’s ordinance may be a tactic by the City to force the houseless they serve out of the area of Directors Park— because it is surrounded by expensive luxury high-rise apartments, expensive shops, and ritzy hotels.

In the Oregonian story, Fish denied that, saying that the new permit system will help the City better plan, coordinate, and supervise park activities, as well as help spread social services to other parts of the city.

More than one in seven (14.6 percent) of Oregon households were “food insecure” during the three-year period of 2014 – 16 [most recent statistics].

In 2016, three out of 10 Oregonians struggling with food security lived well above the poverty line, with income high enough that they were not eligible for public nutrition assistance.

Oregon Center for Public Policy

Along with downtown, the new permit would impact service groups in other parts of the City as well.

PDX Saints is another of the groups doing outreach in the form of meals, serving at Lents Park every Friday alongside the group Boots on the Ground PDX which offers clothing and shoes for those in need.

Kristle Delihanty of PDX Saints spoke with Village Portland during the group’s meal services in Lents Park on Friday, November 1st.

“My main concern is that this ordinance could leave a lot of people hungry on the streets without something to eat,” she said, based on the fact of how many people Free Hot Soup and her group serve in a given weeks. Free Hot Soup attracting hundreds some nights.

Delihanty wondered, “is the city gonna pick up the slack of the people out here doing the work or will they leave their citizen out in the cold starving?”

“The new ordinance would require groups doing this kind of service to meet a set of requirements, I’m not sure how that will affect Free Hot Soup but they do a lot of good work downtown and I would hate to see that stop,” Delihanty said, as she serve food to the more than a dozen individuals who showed up for a meal.

Mayoral Candidate Sarah Iannarone showed up for the Lent’s PDX Saints service with hot tea for individuals. She took the time to help those that wanted the tea to get a cup. “The work these groups do is immensely important to the houseless community and they should be allowed to continue this work.” Iannarone took the time to talk with the different community members who showed up for the meal and volunteers who were serving.

Food, tea, and supplies being provided at the service event in Lents Park.

While the services of PDX Saints in Lents Park were uninterrupted by anyone, the larger gathering downtown for Free Hot Soup attracted around hundred individuals for their services. Prior to setting up for the event, volunteers were approached by Portland Park Rangers who told them about the new ordinance, but also thanked the group for their service.

The meal was vegetarian stew, bread, and a number of other sides along with coffee, tea, and other options to drink.

“I’m not sure the new ordinance applies to Free Hot Soup,” stated Troy Howard, a volunteer who has been helping with the group for quite a while. “Free Hot Soup isn’t really an organization, there are different volunteers every night,” and goes on to say, “we’re more like a group of friends having a giant picnic.”

Describing itself as “Free vegan community picnics all year round!” Food Not Bombs PDX hosts four gatherings around Portland every week for the houseless community and food insecure folks.

The food they cook with and distribute would otherwise be composted or sent to a landfill, they wrote on their Facebook page.

We reached out to get a comment from about the new permit system and how it would impact their group’s work. Eric from the Wednesday serving said that they have heard about it but they haven’t been affected as far as they knew.

The group is looking for someone to bottomline a serving on Fridays at Dawson Park (N Stanton St & Williams Ave). See their web page for more information. They wrote that they will have to cancel this week if no one can be found.

Based on the need and number of people served, the work these groups do is important to the community of Portland— because it means they know where to get a hot meal.

It is unknown at this point exactly which organizations will be impacted— if any— but the groups Free Hot Soup, PDX Saints, and Boots on the Ground have said that they intend to continue their work despite what the City says.

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Cory Elia is a journalist, photographer, videographer, documentary director & producer, radio personality & podcaster. His journalistic focus is on politics, protest, and poverty.

Contact Cory:

Facebook: Cory Elia
Twitter: @therealcoryelia

This weekend

Journalist and educator Lisa Loving definitely share a passion for community reporting and the need for how media and reporting is evolving.

She asked me to speak about my work at a signing for her new book: “Street Journalist: Understand and Report the News in Your Community” this week. I am thankful for her input on the work we’re doing, the opportunity to speak, and the entire evening’s discussion.

Ask for Loving’s book at your local bookstore, or purchase it online at Powell’s.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28TH

Learn more about the Johnson Creek Floodplain (event):

“Join us for a free, family-friendly event to learn more about the Johnson Creek floodplain and how to protect your family from flooding. Enjoy games, crafts, and raffle prizes. Grab a donut, coffee, or hot chocolate on us!

Representatives from Reed College, the Wharton School of Risk Management, Hagan Hamilton Insurance, and City of Portland Environmental Services will be available… “

Zenger Farm, 11741 SE Foster Rd * 9 am – 11 am

***

Lents Community Harvest Festival:

At this, the 16th annual festival, there’s be crafts, games, door prizes, and a quilt raffle!

Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 4244 SE 91st Ave * 1 pm – 4 pm

This weekend

The Lents Neighborhood Association is having their first meeting next week (Tuesday, October 22nd) with their new board. You can see the agenda for the meeting, times and location, and see who has stepped forward to serve here.

***

Portland neighbors put a lot of work into their neighborhood associations, but after a considerable time with a front-row seat at several, the institution always seems to attract conflict. Is this just the nature of humanity, or trying around geography? You’d think common ground was a good place to start.

While the conversation has been around how to bring new groups to the table, I’ve been wondering how we could fix the current system. Reform to the grievance system and more support and training to help board members encourage engagement are my first ideas…

If you have ideas, I’d like to hear them, and will be starting a story soon to bring more ideas forward. Thanks for reading and being involved as we work together to improve civic engagement.

***

This is the second of a five-episode series that played on Open Signal earlier this year. The series is a compilation of Village Portland videos that feature Portlanders organizing events and serving their community.

In this episode, we feature the annual Halloween party at Burnside Skatepark; the Portland Krampus Walk; a performance at a MLK celebration; a visit to the Grotto for their Christmas choir concerts; an interview with the designer of the Cascadian flag; and a look at the City of Portland’s Sunday Parkways.

HALLOWEEN FUN

Haunted Ghost Town (event):

This weekend and next weekend as well…

‘“Where History Won’t Die’, Portland’s newest haunted attraction!” 

Rossi Farms, 3839 NE 122nd Ave * adult $12, youth $8 * 7 pm – 9:30 pm

This weekend

Can we have better, more productive discussions? I believe we can.

Will it take a conscious decision to disregard the models on display in most of the mainstream media. Absolutely.

I opened the door to new ways of storytelling and community problem solving when I started Village Portland, and have been thankful to the folks who have answered the call.

Darren McCormick describes himself (even though he doesn’t like having to describe himself), as an amateur philosopher. He has developed, and has been testing out, a method called Debate by Agreement.

And since we’re working on establishing a new Village Portland on the Portland State University campus (spearheaded by Cory Elia), we figured it would be a good idea to try it out on campus.

Hopefully, the process is something neighbors from across Portland can all learn from.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11TH

Wy’East open house (event):

“Is an Eat & Greet on its own going to solve homelessness? No, but an Eat & Greet can be a platform for community engagement and action. We believe an Eat & Greet can cultivate the connections our community needs — the empathy we need — to continue building toward new ideas, and solutions.”

1427 SE 122nd Ave * 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

This weekend

Though hearings on the plan to change City Code 3.96 has been paused, neighborhood associations continue to seek more details and make suggestions about the City’s official relationship with community groups.

Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association hosted several staff from Office of Community and Civic Life at their monthly meeting. You can hear audio from the event here, including a Q&A with its director, Suk Rhee.

***

APANO arts fest:

It’s the third annual East Portland Arts & Literary Festival! This year in APANO‘s new building that opened this summer and Fubonn Shopping Center.

All kinds of music, storytelling, poetry, dance, and crafting will be on will be there to enjoy. The schedule is here.

Orchards of 82nd, 8188 SE Division St, & Fubonn Shopping Center (2850 SE 82nd Ave * Fri evening & Sat * $5 suggested

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4TH

Karaoke at Eagle Eye:

IMG_7302 (1)

The fine art of karaoke is on tonight at The Eagle Eye Tavern.

5836 SE 92nd Ave * 9 pm – close 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5TH

Once Upon a Time Family Theatre:

“Once Upon a Time Family Theatre is a magical mix of theatrical simplicity and grand storytelling for kids and their families. There’s always a slight twist to the traditional story that keeps these productions fresh. Though simply produced, these delightful and engaging productions will soon have everyone fully absorbed in the interaction of live theatre.”

This month’s production: “The Princess who Never Smiled”

Portland Metro Arts, 9003 SE Stark St * 11:30 am * children $1, $2 adults $2

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Water Spirit: A Tribute to Jim Pepper (event):

“Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (PJCE) honors the music and creative process of Oregon-born saxophonist Jim Pepper (Kaw/Creek) with a concert of new music.” 

Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave * 4 pm

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6TH

Beekeeping work party:

“Beekeepers from PUB will be onsite working on the hives in the Zenger Farm apiary. This is a great opportunity to learn about beekeeping from some of the local experts. Appropriate for all levels of experience.”

Every first and third Sunday with Portland Urban Keepers.

Zenger Farms, 11741 SE Foster Rd * 10 am – noon * donations accepted

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Salmon welcome party:

“Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) invite all to a free, public celebration for the restoration of Crystal Springs Creek. The Salmon Celebration will celebrate the significance of the creek restoration work that has brought wild salmon back to the city.”

Johnson Creek Park, SE 21st Ave & Clatsop St * 11 am – 4 pm

This weekend

Hello everyone! It’s Andrew here, I just wanted to say hello and update you on what Village Portland has been up to.

We’ve added new neighborhoods, partnerships, and reporters— and we are stoked about some new moves in the works.

Cory Elia (Reflection: conducting the survey for the Portland Street Response) and Lesley McLam have been doing some awesome work around homelessness and homeless organizing, and are focusing in on more focused reporting on the areas of PSU and St Johns, respectively.

McLam has been reporting on Jason Barns Landing, a managed camp in North Portland that’s taking what I see as a civil disobedience approach to their camp. And their answering the question: what happens when homeless folk tire of being moved— tired of having their community scattered— keep coming back to the same place?

Both Elia and McLam are volunteers at community radio station KBOO, and use their equipment to publish a podcast called Tripp-p. Like KBOO, Open Signal, is a resource for community media creators that we’ve been collaborating with.

Another media non-profit that trains homeless youth in video storytelling we’re collaborating with, Outside the Frame, also uses Open Signal equipment.

Here’s the third episode of Village Portland Presents, a five-episode series we produced for Open Signal earlier this year. It’s a compilation of video stories, themed around community organizing and culture.

It’s been great to meet other organizations and folks passionate about independent media, and offering more folks a chance to tell their stories.

***

It’s been cool seeing more small businesses pop up in the revamped Lents Town Center! Refuge Coffee House (9217 SE Foster Rd). Learn about their story and community-centered philosophy here.

Lents Draft and Bottle (8530 SE Foster Rd) has a variety of local beer, cider, and wine— along with an awesome flying goat on their sign.

***

The Lents Neighborhood Association had their election this week. We reached out to leadership for the results, but haven’t heard back yet.

SATURDAY

Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival (website):

“Celebrate the legacy of Jim Pepper with Native musicians, singers and dancers, The Gary Ogan Band, the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble and the Flying Eagle Band.

Parkrose High School 12003 NE Shaver St * 11 am – 9 pm * free

2019 Farm to table dinner & fundraiser (event):

“Join us for our Farm to Table, our signature annual event at Zenger Farm’s Urban Grange! The evening will include a live auction, dinner, and celebration of the thousands of children and families in the Zenger Farm community.”

Zenger Farms, 11741 SE Foster Rd * 5 pm * $200, tickets here

SUNDAY

Farmers market: 

Image result for lents international market

“Portland’s only internationally focused market, LIFM provides fresh, affordable, and culturally unique produce to the diverse Lents community and offers farm-direct sales opportunities for immigrant, emerging farmers, and new business owners. In addition to standard market produce, the market features a variety of unique fresh produce from Hmong, Latino, & Russian farmers.”

The market is held every Sunday until November 24th.

SE 92nd and Reedway between Foster and Harold * 9 am – 2 pm

This weekend

Village Portland reporter Cory Elia wrote an interesting piece this week about his experience helping with the homeless Point in Time count that was released recently. Read it here.

Another Village Portland reporter took a closer look at what’s left after a homeless camp sweep. Read that on Village Portland @ St Johns here.

The City claims there’s a process to make sure former camps are cleaned up after a sweep… have you found the site of former camps to been fully cleaned?

***

What’s been known the Foster shelter is having an event to celebrate its opening on Monday, August 12th (6 pm – 7:30 pm).

The Laurelwood Center (6144 SE Foster Rd) will serve those who “identify as female and couples, with priority access for people 55 and over, those with disabilities, and veterans.”

For more info and who’ll be there, visit the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association site.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10TH

Community art:

“A mandala is a sacred spiritual symbol representing the universe. In this program, we’ll talk about mandalas as they appear in nature, and then create our own mandala projects using a variety of art supplies.”

Holgate Library, 7905 SE Holgate Blvd * 2 pm – 3:30 pm

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11TH

The Lents Fair is Sunday! There’ll be music, a chicken beauty contest, vendors, and the day will be closed out by  DJ RESCUE (Zia of The Dandy Warhols).

The website is here. Here’s the video we did on fair from last year:

SE Harold St. and SE 92nd Ave* 11 am – 4 pm 

Farmers market: 

Image result for lents international market

“Portland’s only internationally focused market, LIFM provides fresh, affordable, and culturally unique produce to the diverse Lents community and offers farm-direct sales opportunities for immigrant, emerging farmers, and new business owners. In addition to standard market produce, the market features a variety of unique fresh produce from Hmong, Latino, & Russian farmers.”

SE 92nd and Reedway between Foster and Harold * 9 am – 2 pm