Over the last year and a half, the East Multnomah County homeless community has been meeting together occasionally to discuss the needs of the community and what the community plans to do in order to meet those needs.
Last year we met in March, and the primary objective stated was to begin a day shelter in Gresham. This objective was realized in January this year. Three churches besides Anawim opened up a room one day a week for the homeless to have a place to be where they won't be kicked out of, or concerned that they would be reported as dangerous or illegal. Of course, to exist without a place to be IS illegal in Multnomah Co, according to the camping ordinance. So for churches to offer a place for the homeless is to allow the homeless to be legal, for at least that period of time.
This last week, we had another of our regular meetings, and the homeless determined that they didn't care for how security has been handled at the day shelters and Anawim. They feel that it has been too lax, and those who break the rules-- especially the rules about violence-- should be given more severe discipline rather than just leaving for the day, and there ought to be a difference in discipline between those who begin a fight and those who are defending themselves. So a sub-committee was formed, made up of Linda, Dano and John Fagerson, and they will determine suggestions for the different places as to security measures.
They also want to have a broader meeting next time, inviting not just the homeless, but also those who are working in the day shelters to try to develop new policies for the shelters.
This is what ownership looks like: taking on responsibility.