Right 2 Dream Too, the homeless way station at the corner of
Fourth Avenue and Burnside, will square off with city attorneys next week for
perhaps the final round in their 20-month standoff. On July 11, a motion to dismiss
by the city will be considered in circuit court, and if granted, could signal
another legal dead-end for R2DToo, which is trying to find a more permanent
site for people experiencing homelessness.
But Right 2 Dream Too isn’t waiting for any favors from the
city, which hasn’t budged on its course to fine the controversial camp out of
Organizers with R2DToo are in negotiations with Central City
Concern about possibly occupying CCC’s Medford Building at Glisan Street and
Fifth Avenue in Old Town. The building had housed Transition Projects Inc.,
which relocated to the Bud Clark Commons in 2011. Transition Projects used the
Medford Building as temporary housing and support services for people
Ibrahim Mubarak, the spokesman for the nonprofit R2DToo,
said today that an “undisclosed group” has made an offer on the building on
R2DToo’s behalf. However, Mubarak declined to say anything more on the matter
because the terms and conditions have yet to be decided. It is one of several
sites the group is considering for a new home, according to Mubarak.
“We have been and continue to look for alternative locations
that meet the needs of that population, which include transportation and having
access to social services,” says R2DToo attorney Mark Kramer.
Kramer and Mubarak are scheduled to meet with City
Commissioner Amanda Fritz Tuesday morning to talk about the homeless group’s
future. In the recent bureau assignments from Mayor Charlie Hales, Fritz
assumed authority over the Bureau of Development Services which is the agency
“I hope that she will understand our position and stop and
waive the fines and negotiate something different with us,” Mubarak said.
Mubarak says any decision on relocating R2DToo would be made
by the nonprofit’s seven-member board of directors.
The Medford Building is not entirely empty. The first floor houses the VOA
Treatment Center along with an expanse of space formerly used as winger shelter
with a capacity for 95. The upper floors are single-residency apartments,
nearly all occupied. R2DToo regularly shelters about 60 people at night, with
that number swelling to 90 to 100 during the winter, Mubarak says.
If a deal is reached, it would the biggest breakthrough to
date for the camp that has battled the city and local business pressures to
Since October 2011, R2DToo has leased the property from
owners Michael Wright and Daniel Cossette for $1 a year. In recent months, a “for
sale” sign has been prominently displayed on the lot. In December, the
organization has sued the city seeking to suspend the citation process that has
levied more than $21,700 in fines on the camp for code violations. The fine
goes up $1,500 every month, according to Kramer. While the fines technically
fall on the property owners’ responsibility, they are directed at R2DToo.
The city has fined the site under two code violations. The
first being that the fence around the property – constructed from used doors –
exceeded the 6-foot limit, a situation that was recently corrected. The second
violation comes because the city categorizes R2DToo as a recreational
campground, subject to certain city requirements. The organization maintains
this is an emergency shelter operation for people experiencing homelessness, and
is allowed under state statute.
The city has moved to have the case dismissed on technical
grounds, and if the circuit court judge grants the city’s motion, the case
could simply die for lack of money or administrative options to move forward.
Kramer, who is donating his time to the case as a member of
the National Lawyers Guild, said that if the case dies, the group could appeal
or try for an administrative hearing, although deadlines have passed and
appeals are costly. But Kramer stays optimistic.
“Things can happen,” Kramer says. “There could be some type
of waiver. Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
Read more about Right 2 Dream Too.