This past Thursday, May 27th, Lloyd EcoDistrict hosted a lunchtime event with members of Right 2 Dream Too (R2DToo) and the Lloyd Community Association to update the Lloyd community on the efforts of the quickly expanding organization. R2DToo is a nonprofit organization working to bring shelter to houseless Portland residents, servicing anywhere from 15 to 100 people each night. Currently operating out of the Lloyd, they work to bring a safe space for community members to rest and sleep without fear of violence from police and private security. More information on their operations can be found here.
Twenty community members joined in on the discussion, including Grant Swanson with R2DToo, Kieth Jones with the Lloyd Community Association, and Sarah Heinicke and Joshua Baker with Lloyd EcoDistrict. From Grant Swanson, the treasurer for R2DToo, participants were able to better understand the complex history of R2DToo, get updates on current projects and needs, and learn about their recent involvement with C(3)PO.
The history of R2DToo has been turbulent since its beginnings in 2011, with consistent pressure from the city. Their first rest stop, built in Old Town Chinatown during 2011, operated differently from many others of the time, with the ability to bring pets, share a tent with your partner, and self-identify your gender identity. As was told by Swanson, the shelter operated successfully until they were fined and subsequently displaced. By 2017, the rest stop was moved to the Lloyd.
Before settling in the Lloyd, Portland city officials selected a series of other neighborhoods to place the residents of R2DToo, efforts that local neighborhoods fought.. Finally, the residents, or “Dreamers,” were relocated to the Lloyd, where the city hoped a land-use claim would not be filed. Instead of fighting the city on the decision, Lloyd community members, spearheaded by Lloyd EcoDistrict and the Lloyd Community Association, decided to work with R2DToo and assist the organization in whichever ways needed. Falling in line with our values of community resiliency, equity, and climate, Lloyd EcoDistrict has worked with R2DToo with projects like building sleeping pods and building solar-powered chargers to the residents.
Over the past year, R2DToo has successfully provided safe housing through the pandemic. This accomplishment has led them to be the new operators of C(3)PO, a city-sponsored outdoor shelter that was created in response to COVID-19 and the dangers of indoor shelters. In collaboration with the Portland-based non-profit JOIN, C(3)PO (Creating Conscious Communities with People Outside) employees worked throughout the pandemic to enforce sanitation, CDC guidelines, security, and three meals a day. Over the last few months, funding to those employees has been cut back, leaving only 12 employees. Seeing R2DToo’s success, the organization was asked to run the shelters, and they signed a contract in December of 2020. Whereas R2DToo used to be self-managed, meaning the houseless residents also ran the shelter, the new addition of C(3)PO has meant a change in the operations, expanding the organization from a grassroots co-op style system to one with government-funding and salaried employees. While the contract ends in late June, JOIN is asking R2DToo to roll over the contract, a decision that will impact the future operations of the organization.
Swanson concluded the meeting with an overview of how the community can support R2DToo moving forward, including food (individually packaged meals), adult clothing, hygiene products, and sleeping bags. The organization also has a Go Fund Me with a $36,000 goal to continue supporting and keeping Portland’s houseless community safe.
Additionally, a free Fridge, built by Benson HS Tech Geo students will be arriving at R2DToo In June. We will let you know when, so that you can come by with a donation for the fridge and a hearty thank you to the students of Benson HS! Go Tech!
Thank you to all who participated in the group conversation, and thank you to Grant Swanson, who so effectively updated the Lloyd community on both the history and current operations of Right 2 Dream Too. If you missed the meeting and would like to see the recording, you can watch it below.