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Neighbors Helping Neighbors

News Article
Neighbors across North Portland are working together to provide support for people experiencing houselessness, housing instability, and food insecurity.

It began with a simple question: “If we could do anything to help, what would it be?” This question was asked by Kenton resident Terrance Moses to houseless community members on the Peninsula Crossing Trail in 2016 and the response, “We need help getting rid of trash”, informed Terrance’s group Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX. Founded in the Spring of 2016, Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX works with houseless community members and volunteers to remove trash from houseless communities in North Portland, provides welfare checks, and builds relationships between the houseless and housed communities.

“When Terrance first talked with houseless community members living at the Peninsula Crossing Trail, he heard their frustrations about the trash accumulating. They didn’t have trash service and they didn’t have permission to put it in trash containers in North Portland,” said Patt Opdyke, the Program Coordinator at Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX. “Terrance was excited to help with this issue. We have grown our capacity every year. In 2020 alone, we collected 211,000 pounds of trash around North Portland and Delta Park.”

A before and after picture. The picture on the left shows a street in North Portland with trash on the ground. The picture on the right shows it after it has been cleaned by Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX.
Image showing progress of Friends Helping Neighbors PDX founder, Terrance Moses, before and after clearing trash from a street in North Portland.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX is one of 30 North Portland groups participating in the North Portland Neighborhood Services’ (NPNS) sponsored North Portland Doers Gathering. Each of the members of the Doers Gathering provide support for people experiencing houselessness, housing instability, and food insecurity.

With rising houselessness due to increased housing prices and the impact of COVID-19, the NPNS and North Portland Doers Gathering have organized two houseless forums and are working to create a resource showcasing organizations providing houseless support in North Portland.

“I have worked for the Portland District Coalition Office, North Portland Neighborhood Services (NPNS) for over 20 years.” Said Mary Jaron  Kelley, the Associate Program Director of NPNS “The work evolves each year but the one constant that I have always experienced is the empathy, strength, and enthusiasm our community has for making North Portland a great community. The Doers Gathering members are a shining example of the compassion our community has for one another.”

The inaugural Doers Gathering event first launched in May 2019 at The University of Oregon’s Agora Journalism Center. One of the co-founders of the original Doers Gathering and director of the center, Andrew DeVigal, shares their philosophy that “when you include those most affected by a problem in the conversation, better solutions can emerge.”

“I’m thrilled that organizations have taken this model and made it their own. The framework can go beyond solving housing insecurity by bringing together those working on other pressing local issues such as healthcare, environment, and education.” Andrew said. If you know of individuals or organizations working on solutions addressing our region’s most challenging problems, you can host your event using their Doers Gathering Toolkit.

North Portland Neighborhood Services is one of seven District Coalition Offices serving neighborhoods across Portland. NPNS serves eleven neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland: Arbor Lodge, Bridgeton, Cathedral Park, East Columbia, Hayden Island, Kenton, Overlook, Piedmont, Portsmouth, St. Johns, and University Park.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX serves communities in North Portland. If you are interested in learning more or volunteering, please visit their Facebook page.

If you have questions about hosting your own Doers Gathering, please reach out to Andrew DeVigal at adevigal@uoregon.edu.