Under Portland’s gun violence emergency declaration in August 2022, the Community Safety Division focused on increasing safety and reducing violence in the area around NE 82nd Avenue between NE Beech Street, NE Milton Street, and east to NE 85th Avenue. Referred to as a “micro location” due to the narrow focus on one city block, this area received eight weeks of intensive services and resources by multiple City of Portland bureaus and partners. The overall goal was to achieve a reduction in gun-related homicides, a reduction in calls for service, and increased community engagement and positive activity. Although the initial work in the area is complete, community outreach and engagement effort will continue long-term through the coordination and support of the City’s Safe Blocks Program.
Who was involved?
The following City of Portland bureaus, programs, and partners supported safety improvements in the 82nd Avenue and NE Milton Street area:
Portland Mayor’s Office
Portland Bureau of Development Services – Code Enforcement
Portland City Attorney’s Office
Portland Community Safety Division
Office of Violence Prevention
Safe Blocks Program
Safer Summer PDX Focused Investment Team
Street Services Coordination Center
Dr. Jon Jay, Consultant and Assistant Professor of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health
Portland Police Bureau – East Precinct Command staff and Neighborhood Response Team
Public Environment Management Office
Parametrics Support Team
Why did we choose this location?
Deemed the “Deadliest Block in the City,” by the Oregonian, the area of NE 82nd Avenue and NE Milton Street became a focus area under the Mayor’s gun violence emergency declaration in early August 2022. Known to be an area with multiple gun-related homicides, high incidents of prostitution, drug dealing, entrenched camping, and other safety issues along a high-traffic corridor, neighbors in 2022 formed a community group to ask the City to address what they deemed to be the single biggest contributor to these crimes: the Madison Suites Motel.
What did we do?
The following actions were taken to improve safety in the area, including:
Outreach to the community-led neighborhood group calling for action in the area.
An outreach plan to reach the surrounding community. This plan engaged with 30 households in the area with a focus on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community members, businesses, and a faith-based organization to engage in collective problem-solving to address public safety problems in the area.
Outreach directly to the Madison Suites Motel owner and conducting a code compliance inspection, looking into finding a buyer for the property, and conducting a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design assessment.
Law enforcement missions to address prostitution and drug dealing.
Camp clean-ups to address houseless camping in the right of way and the illegal overnight camping of RVs.
Traffic calming plans to address traffic flow into the neighborhood.
Traffic signage to address overnight camping on NE Milton near NE 82d Avenue.
Support for community-led positive activity in the area.
Were we successful?
Efforts in the micro location area were successful in the following ways:
Shootings in the micro location went from one to zero and the area received nine less dispatched calls for service (a 31% reduction).
The greater community benefited from the program. Although the focus was on a small micro location, community outreach and engagement reached well beyond 82nd Avenue and Milton Street. The Safe Blocks Program coordinators connected with neighbors, area schools (including McDaniel High School), businesses, faith groups, and more.
Community-led placemaking and community building activities laid the foundation for safer blocks in the area. The 82nd Avenue and Milton neighbors were motivated and showed up with many ideas to organize events, including a trash clean-up, block party, community resource fair, street mural, and more. These community groups will receive continued support from the Safe Blocks Program with outreach, event planning, and resources and referrals. A community safety fair also took place at the First Orthodox Presbyterian Church next to Madison Suites Motel and received up to $500.00 in one-time reimbursements.
Discussions are underway with the Madison Suites Motel’s owner to make improvements and transition the property to a new purpose. A potential option being considered is a transitional housing program.
Community outreach and engagement in the NE 82nd Avenue and NE Milton Street micro location area will continue long-term through the coordination and support of the City’s Safe Blocks Program. We intend to launch additional focused efforts throughout Portland in the coming months/years to build on the pilot program’s success, realizing that not all locations are the same.