Hazelnut Grove Residents Seeking Answers After City Hall Contradictions – Blogtown – Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon 2021-02-23 13:18:26 –

There was a banner on the hazelnut glove fence that the city plans to remove next month. Alex Zielinski

The collapse of communication between Commissioners in Portland last week brought new attention to the uncertain future of Hazelnut Grove, a small home village where 17 formerly homeless individuals now live. The turmoil added wrinkles to the delicate and years-long process of relocating a village on a city-owned land triangle between N Greeley and the Interstate Highway.

“I don’t think they’re aware they’re playing in people’s lives right now,” said Barbie Weber, a homeless advocate who has lived in Hazelnut Grove for nearly a year. “They are too focused on doing politics.”


The question is how long it will take for current residents of a five-year-old village to stop the city from providing minimal services to the community and begin to demolish their homes.

The city is self-managed, noting that when a small home village run by the city opens in the nearby St. John’s district, hazelnut globe tenants will either move to a new space or find another location and call it home. Allowed the village to operate on the city’s land. In any case, the city does not want the village to stay where it is. The current location is particularly vulnerable to landslides and wildfires.

In late JanuaryThe city has announced that this new village in St. John’s (a cluster of 19 sleeping pods with shared kitchens, laundry and toilets called St. John’s Village) will open in the coming months. This means that the city will soon cease to provide services currently provided by Hazelnut Grove, such as trash picking and toilet services, and remove city-owned items from its properties, such as large storage facilities and wire mesh fences surrounding villages. To do.

These services cost the city about $ 1,500 per month. This is the price with the constant fear of costly litigation. What happened at Hazelnut Grove continues to be the city’s responsibility, even if it does not play an operational role in the village. (In May 2020, the city issued a $ 202,500 settlement A woman whose house was damaged and her dog was killed A 2016 fire caused by a Forgotten Realms tenant has created a now abandoned homeless camp on the city’s property. All city costs associated with Hazelnut Gloves came from the Homeless and Urban Camp Impact Reduction Program (HUCIRP). Budget, a department supervised by Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Hazelnut Grove tenants are not excited about this relocation plan.

According to residents, only four people currently living in Hazelnut Grove will move to St. John’s Village. Hazelnut Grove tenants previously agreed to move when the city found space in another village, but many imagined a situation with the same level of autonomy as Hazelnut Grove. .. However, St. John’s Village is managed by the non-profit Do Good Multnomah, where residents connect with social workers and ultimately help them move to traditional homes. Many Hazelnut Grove residents, such as Weber and her husband, do not consider their small family life to be temporary and want to live in a stable place where they do not need to relocate. I will.

Weber and others will stay in Hazelnut Grove until they crowdfund enough money to buy another land to move. They wanted the city to continue to serve until that point.

Last wednesday Portland Tribune Wheeler reported still committed In line with the plans announced in January, we planned to shut down those additional services in March. However, this claim was quickly denied by Dan Ryan, who was partly involved in the conversation as a member of the city overseeing the joint homeless service office. On Thursday, Ryan confidently tweeted that the city would continue to provide Hazelnut Grove with its current service for another six months.

Wheeler’s office Said Tribune Instead, Ryan was wrong. By Friday, city officials who had spent years planning this transition had no idea where city officials were standing on the issue. And after meeting Sam Adams (who turned from former mayor to Wheeler staff) late Friday, Hazelnut Grove residents realized that they were just as confused.

“All I know is that we won’t be forcibly taken away,” Weber said, who spoke to Adams on Friday.

Joshua Maurice, who has lived in Hazelnut Grove since 2017, said the lack of clarity became unstable, further weakening trust between villagers and the city.

“Some of me wonder if flip-flops are a kind of tactic to demoralize us,” Maurice said. “Or, seeing uncertainty and hesitation about what to do should be encouraging. It shows that they really think about it.”

According to Jim Middaugh, a spokesman for Wheeler’s office, the plan is almost final. With the opening of St. John’s Village, perhaps next month, the city will stop paying for services and begin removing fences, storage containers and vacant homes from Hazelnut Grove. .. At that point, the village will be treated like any other homeless camp during COVID-19. In short, the city will provide residents with temporary toilets, hand-washing stations and garbage collection. Residents of Hazelnut Grove were asked if they would like to relocate or receive a “camp ban” notice requiring the city’s contractors to acquire the property.process Anyone who doesn’t have a Portland home knows — Middow said, “I have no plans to do so.”

On Monday, Ryan’s office announced that he had agreed to Wheeler’s plan to suspend service to Hazelnut Grove when St. John’s Village opened.

For Weber, the termination of these services means the termination of safety at Hazelnut Gloves.

“When the fence goes down, our only sense of security is lost,” Weber said, who dealt with the threat of daily assault when he was homeless in downtown Portland. “This is a big part of stability here.”

The village is by a bike path used by both spandex cyclists and those who say Weber threatens the community with theft, assault, or other forms of harassment. Hazelnut Grove residents maintain a 24-hour security shift on the premises, but secure wire mesh fences and their locked main gates provide residents with a level of additional protection from those who want to take advantage of vulnerable communities. To do. It also keeps tenant dogs away from the bike path and protects them from hitting the crowded lanes of the Interstate N.

“The city says they are worried about our safety because of these environmental hazards,” Weber said. “But they are actually putting us at greater risk.”

Maurice plans to move to St. John’s Village next month, but he doesn’t think it should demolish the hazelnut gloves. In particular, it provides shelter for those who are otherwise sleeping on the street.

“People can still benefit from this space,” he said. “Why do you need to get rid of it?”

Commissioner Joe Anne Hardesti shares Maurice’s concerns.On monday she said Mercury She said she was “morally uneasy” about her colleague’s plan to shut down hazelnut gloves in the middle of winter during a devastating pandemic.

“If you have a historic open space that has provided stability to your non-living neighbors, you have to take advantage of it,” she said. “We have an obligation to provide more dignified shelter options throughout the city, as we do not yet have enough housing for people to really live in.”

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The Hadesti office plans to meet with Hazelnut Grove residents on Tuesday to learn more about the situation.

Wheeler’s office will issue a statement this week to clear the turmoil last week. Meanwhile, Maurice said his neighbors are in a hurry to create “Plans B, C, and D” to prepare for what the city will announce next. He said one of those plans was crowdsourcing funding to cover the monthly costs of fences and storage facilities. The other is to find a place to camp if the city begins to demolish homes. In that regard, Weber said, “The city will basically drive stable people out onto the streets.”

“And [the city is] I’m doing it on purpose, “she said. “That’s the sad part.”


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