Dignity Village is an intentional community for the homeless. We provide year-round shelter and safety off the street for up to sixty people every night.
It sits on City of Portland-owned land, and shares the lot with the municipal leaf composting facility. There are forty-three basic dwelling structures, hosting 50-60 residents in the Village. The vast majority of the structures are made from recycled or reclaimed materials. Dignity Village has an incredibly low environmental impact, as resource use is minimal.
Dignity Village is a cross between a transitional housing option and an intentional community. Our city contract stipulates a limit of two years per person of residing at the Village. However, we also recognize the value of longevity in leadership, as well as the challenges of Portland’s affordable housing system, so extensions can be granted for Villagers in leadership positions, and those actively working to move out of Dignity Village.
Living conditions are sparse at Dignity Village. Each residence comes with a bed and a propane heater. The dwellings don’t have utility hook-ups in them. Few are connected to electricity; requests for electricity must be approved by membership vote, typically for a medical exception. The individual units don’t have running water– there are two shared sinks, one shower for the whole Village, and several port-a-lets.
Villagers pay $35 per month in their contribution to the operating expenses (typically referred to as their “insurance payment,”) and the rest of their operating budget comes from micro-business revenues and private donations. Dignity Village covers all their operating expenses through this fund, including utilities such as electricity, internet, waste removal, port-a-potty service and water.
What happens when you have a partner who is also homeless? Or a pet who you rely on for companionship, protection or support for a disability? In a typical facilities-based shelter, you’re not permitted to stay with your partner or your pet. At Dignity Village, we welcome couples and pets, and foster the dignity that comes with making your own choice about who stays with you.
We’re the longest-existing, continually operating, city-sanctioned Homeless Village in the United States. The Tent City Urbanist movement has long pointed to our experiment as proof of its success.