It started at the intersection of respect and dignity in the streets of Portland. Ibrahim
Mubarak, other houseless community leaders, and I came together to organize for the
rights of the houseless in Portland as we faced discrimination and unfair city practices.
Many felt voiceless and powerless, but there was resolve to work for change.
We decided the only way to effect change in our community was to recognize we
have dignity and to organize to gain access to services, and advocate for safe places to
sleep and congregate. Right 2 Survive (R2S) was founded, with the support of MRG
Foundation, to serve as the conduit for connecting people to make that a reality.
R2S gained early key victories in establishing self-governing houseless camps that
provide a safe space for individuals to sleep, eat, and call “home.” We ultimately envision
becoming a national model for other houseless advocates. It can be challenging to find
funding for such an ambitious goal, but we know our experiences and the work we
do is important. Seed funding — initial grant support to jump-start organizing — from
MRG helped us to share our model with other communities by organizing the Pacific
Northwest Social Forum. This gathering brought together advocates from cities all over
the NW. We shared our experiences and explored the intersectionality of issues such as
climate justice, houselessness, environmental justice, and Native American treaty rights.
MRG’s support transformed our work by providing us with the financial support
necessary to share what we know and help other communities include the voices of
houseless people in the larger social justice movement.
Right 2 Survive Chairperson
Capacity Building Initiative Cohort Member