Any given night, some 2,000 people sleep unsheltered in Portland – posing health and safety risks for those experiencing homelessness and the surrounding community.
Question: Has the City considered placing dumpsters near encampments?
Yes, and in some areas we have. However, we have found that they were largely used by the housed community to dump items they no longer wanted. Additionally, some people believe that having such an amenity would only serve to attract larger groups of individuals experiencing homelessness. Despite that, our group has developed a response system that allows for individuals experiencing homelessness to properly dispose of garbage and items that they no longer need. This response system begins by filing a report with One Point of Contact.
One Point of Contact is a system that allows for community members to file reports regarding camps anywhere in town. That report automatically creates a work assignment for a group called Clean Start to come out and assist with garbage collection. Clean Start is a group of individuals who have lived experience with homelessness and they respond by going to the reported area and engaging with those who are present. Clean Start employees offer resources, pick up camper identified garbage in addition to sharps and other biohazardous materials, and then send HUCIRP back an assessment of their findings for that area. Clean Start crews use blue garbage bags and will often pass them out to houseless individuals in camps to help them keep their area clean. If you see bagged blue bags in any location, it is likely from our crews who will be following up on that location soon.
In pre-COVID-19 times, HUCIRP would use the assessment from Clean Start to make a determination regarding campsite removal. However, as a result of COVID-19 and guidance issued from Multnomah County Health, HUCIRP has largely paused campsite removals to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the community. For more information on campsite removals, see this blog post.
To report a campsite or garbage as the result of a campsite, please use just one of the following methods:
- Campsite Report Form: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/campsites
- PDX Reporter: https://pdxreporter.org
- Calling Information & Referral: 503-823-4000
HUCIRP recommends filing a new report once a week regarding any given campsite. This helps to ensure that Clean Start continues to visit the site, and that we have a current assessment on hand regarding what is going on there in that location.
If there is human waste on public property, send an email to email@example.com and we will have our vendor clean it up that day.
If you have observed criminal activity at a campsite, please contact the Portland Police Bureau.
Jonathan Lewis is the Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program Coordinator. He holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration from Portland State University. He served in the Peace Corps from 2009-2011 in Kazakhstan. He lives in Portland with his wife and their 2 year-old son.