Portland’s City Council heard robust support for the Central Eastside Enhanced Service District and its programs before unanimously approving two proposals that continued funding of the Central Eastside Enhanced Service District and renewed the public-private partnership with Central Eastside Together.
The Central Eastside District, one of the City’s three Enhanced Service Districts, is comprised of more than 700 property and business owners who choose to fund enhanced services above and beyond basic City services, including sidewalk cleanup, campsite trash collection, graffiti removal, business development and health and safety services to those in the houseless community.
Building off more than three successful years since its launch in 2019, Central Eastside Together will continue fostering a safer district, enhancing the pedestrian experience, reinforcing economic viability and promoting the area’s unique identity through innovative, essential, trauma-informed and highly responsive programs to improve the lives of those who live and work in the 340-block Central Eastside.
“We are truly Central Eastside Together, bringing our communities together during a time when our city has needed support the most, said Kate Merrill, Central Eastside Together’s outgoing executive director. “We made sure that all had a place at the table and that these programs could serve the entire community.”
Central Eastside Together has not only created an effective facilitation model between housed and unhoused community members, but also provides the following essential services:
Safety Team: Unarmed safety ambassadors provide a presence of public safety on the streets and sidewalks within the district, verbally intervening to defuse crisis situations and conflicts, providing referrals to available services and providing chaperone services for individuals with safety concerns going to or from their car or public transportation. They are trained in conflict resolution, de-escalation, first aid, mental health crisis response, trauma informed intervention and social service safety net referrals.
Care Team: Outreach ambassadors and care coordinators cover the district on weekdays, connecting with people experiencing houselessness, handing out care items and connecting houseless individuals with services. They are trained in conflict resolution, de-escalation, first aid, mental health crisis response, trauma informed intervention and social service safety net referrals.
Sidewalk Cleaning: Partnering with Central City Concern’s Clean Start Program, which offers work opportunities for people impacted by houselessness, Central Eastside Together provides sidewalk cleaning services throughout the district, removing trash — but not personal property, unless requested to do so.
Graffiti Removal: Partnering with Central City Concern’s Clean Start Program, Central Eastside Together provides graffiti removal services to private properties throughout the district.
Campsite Trash Collection: Partnering with Trash for Peace, Central Eastside Together provides short-term employment for individuals experiencing houselessness to provide trash collection services to campsites throughout the district.
Bioswale Maintenance: Partnering with Trash for Peace and the Bureau of Environmental Services, Central Eastside Together provides maintenance for the bioswales on the east side of the Morrison Bridge, educating houseless people in the area about the function of the bioswales and giving them the opportunity to become stewards of the fragile green area.
Barbra Weber, first homeless in 2015 in the Central Eastside and living underneath the Morrison Bridge, is now Trash for Peace’s G.L.I.T.T.E.R. program manager. Her teams partner with Central Eastside Together to provide litter collection and tentside trash service for those living outside, along with job opportunities to those who face housing insecurity.
"All this basically started from a relationship that we built with the Central Eastside and just like they believed in us, we also believed in them,” Weber told City Commissioners. “From a homeless perspective, we have a unique voice in this district. They listen to us, they provide trauma-informed care and what I think is really important is that all of the board members and community members and residents in the district are offered those kinds of trainings."
The management contract approved today formally documents much of the good work already being done by Central Eastside Together, with only minor changes to enhance City oversight, expand avenues of collaboration with existing basic City services and ensure that services align with the City’s sustainable procurement and fair wage policies. The new contract will also include a commitment by Central Eastside Together to fully participate in the City process to evaluate the City’s Enhanced Service District program and renegotiate contract portions affected by any resulting changes in City Code.
City Council members praised the Central Eastside as a model for collaborative approaches to improving communities.
“Recovering from the pandemic and supporting our most vulnerable have been some of the biggest challenges that we’re continuing to face," said City Commissioner Carmen Rubio. "Central Eastside Together is doing it all with a sense of mutual respect with collaboration in community safety. To me, this is in many ways the standard bearer for how we do the work.”
Learn more about Enhanced Service Districts on the City’s website.