We had everything we really absolutely needed,” Lisa says.
The village has a stockpile of donated items it keeps in a shed, but that’s not where this stuff came from.
“The whole impetus for doing this is to see the restoration of the village — everywhere.” The community structure of Dignity Village hardly qualifies it as a utopia.
“The community aspect here is pretty cool — not always, though,” says Lisa. We will fight like cats and dogs.” Yet, Lisa also recalls the time a few years back when there was a fire in her structure.
The council unanimously agrees to provide five dollars to cover five bottles of bleach from Dollar Tree.
Somebody utters the word “cesspool.” Another says he went in there and “the floor is mushy.” Tumbleweed, who sits in a wheelchair with long gray hair in a braid down his back, and a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, beseeches the Golden Rule of homeless living: “You pack it in, you pack it out,” he says.
The woman told the council that the cat has been her lifeline; it prevented her from committing suicide on three different occasions.
The woman chose to remain homeless rather than give up her cat. ” Sawant asks, her tears clearing and her gaze now sharp.
Today, Dignity Village provides shelter to about 65 individuals and operates as a self-governing community for formerly homeless people. A giant, colorful mural spans the ground in the middle of the village, while benches and little gardens are scattered throughout.
“Among those who are anti-homeless or anti-poor there’s a very convenient notion that [homeless] people brought it upon themselves and that they should accept whatever is given to them.” She adds, “It’s not about the cat per se, but what kind of vision of society are we generating?
” Sawant supports an initiative to fully fund an emergency plan that would provide shelter for the more than three thousand homeless people in Seattle, which has seen an emergence of large, unsanctioned tent encampments.
n 2001, a group of homeless people In Portland, Oregon, set up a campsite under a downtown bridge.
The city didn’t have enough shelter space to accommodate its homeless population, and as the camp attracted more and more people, authorities began regular sweeps, clearing away tents and sleeping bags — which inevitably cropped right back up. A group of community leaders and activists teamed up with those living at the camp and hatched a plan: make the tent village permanent by developing a community of tiny homes for homeless people.