Working with partner organizations, the City of Portland creates job opportunities for people experiencing homelessness to compensate them for helping address the impacts of unsanctioned camping.
These pilot programs are part of the Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program's work to minimize the impacts of homelessness today while the City of Portland expands long-term access to safe, affordable housing.
Peer-Led Outreach Initiative
This pilot program compensates unhoused Portlanders for engaging their peers to ensure the safety and success of City projects.
From sewer repairs to bike lane installation, work teams often need to cooperate with people experiencing houselessness. Recognizing the value of lived experience, the City partners with Ground Score – a peer-led initiative of Trash for Peace – to dispatch outreach teams who resolve challenges through conversation.
City project teams request help from the pilot program to address safety concerns with people experiencing houselessness. After receiving training, outreach workers with lived experience are sent to share information, have a conversation and find a solution. Workers receive $20 per hour to conduct outreach or $25 per hour to coordinate outreach teams, which is paid by project budgets.
Because of their lived experience, outreach workers can empathize with people affected by public works projects. This approach values their skills, treats unhoused people with respect and finds effective solutions so the City can make community improvements.
One success story is the Better Naito bike and pedestrian project, where unhoused people were harvesting road dividers to elevate their tents. An outreach team explained the purpose of the dividers and the safety risks created by removing them. Once an understanding was reached, crews restored the bike and pedestrian lanes. Public education efforts are continuing.
Trash Collection Initiative
People who have experienced housing instability are earning money by helping clean up the trash related to homeless encampments in Portland.
In partnership with Ground Score, the City is hiring work teams to pick up trash in eight areas across downtown, Old Town and Northeast Portland through a program known as GLITTER – Ground Score Association Leading Inclusivity Together Through Environmental Recovery.
The program was launched in February 2021. During the first three months, more than 30 people were paid to collect 23,000 pounds of trash.