Sunday, March 1, 2009

Community Meeting of the Homeless, Gresham OR

February 28, 2009

Moderated by Steve Kimes, pastor of Anawim Christian Community
Participants: 40 men and women living on the street in Gresham
Observing: Representatives of Anawim Christian Community, Key Conversation on Poverty and Oregon Coalition for Christian Values


1. Introduction by Steve Kimes
The purpose of the meeting is to determine what the homeless desire in order to meet their needs. This is so advocacy groups and the city might know what the community of the homeless desire. It is also so that the homeless might participate in ownership of any services provided. The minutes of this meeting will be sent to advocacy groups and to those in Gresham interested in assisting those living on the street in Gresham.

2. What services do you (the homeless) want in Gresham to meet your needs?A return of the East Hill Benevolence Center/ A day shelter
“A safe and warm place to be during the day without being accused of loitering.”
A warm place to sit during the day
Coffee available
Bathroom available 24 hours a day
A facility to wash clothes
A space to camp overnight without police supervision
“We need a safe place to sleep without worrying that anyone will bother us.”
Assistance to obtain ID
The Human Solutions Medical Van to Gresham
Assistance with medications
“If I had my medications, I wouldn’t need to drink”
NW Medical Teams Dental van to come to Gresham
A medical resource center where referrals could be made
A place to get mail
Low income housing
“If housing prices were lower my daughter and I wouldn’t need to be on the street at all”
Free transport between Troutdale and Gresham
Night shelter
A donation distribution center for street folks
Pro bono attorney
A day-long storage space with lockers

3. The Three Top Priorities
Each need listed was voted on, with everyone on the street having two votes. These were the three items considered to be the most important:
a. Safe Camp site—17 votes
-Would need to include outhouses, fresh water
-Would be maintained by the residents, with each resident volunteering upkeep of the camp
-Would be policed by the residents
-Would need to include garbage service
-Could include showers, some electricity

b. Day shelter with various services—9 votes
-Would include places to sit and to linger during the day
-Would include coffee
-Would include an address to send mail to
-Could be a donation drop off and pick up site
-Would be a place to do laundry
-Could have a phone available to street folks
-Could include bus tickets, especially for medical appointments
-Would have regular volunteers from the street folks, assisting

c. An overnight shelter—7 votes
-Separate place for those 21 and under
-“bare bones”—just a warm room with cots to put sleeping bags on and a bathroom
-A check in time and a check out time

d. Other issues which gained more than one vote
-Low income housing— 4 votes
-Assistance with mediations— 2 votes

4. Comments and Concerns“I don’t want to be forced to camp with others, especially if it might harm my sobriety”

Disagreement about alcohol and drug use—some say it should be allowed in camp site, but most were firmly against such use.

“Everyone must be responsible to clean up their own garbage, no matter where they are”

“All of this is speculation, anyway. We all know that the city won’t allow us to do any of this.”

Some concern about being safe from police harassment

“We wouldn’t need any of this if it were just legal to sleep on the street.”

Some discussion about a need for a labor pool in order to have flexible work. “A ‘Labor Ready’ for people on the street.”

It was noted that some of the services requested are already provided, e.g. Anawim provides mail service, and there are a few medical and dental resources for some and TPI provides ID assistance. Others pointed out that these services, in general are inadequate for the need, and some are located in Portland, not Gresham.


These minutes may be freely sent to anyone who has interest. Please retain the content of the minutes as presented by Steve Kimes in order to protect the comments of those on the street. If anyone wishes to make commentary on the meeting or minutes, please do so separately.

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