“It’s not a choice between a cookie cutter model that punishes and papers-over human misery, and doing nothing. It’s about choosing something new and innovative. I for one am in favor of consigning the “punish and paper-over” model to the dust-bin of history …. so that we can get on with making sure our unhoused neighbors can finally sleep safely and access the bathrooms, water, and trash services our city and businesses currently refuse them.” – John Elizalde, Interfaith Alliance on Poverty
We propose a social science and trauma informed Compassionate Change Plan, based on existing programs from here and around the country. We have included suggested partners to engage.
The Clean Up Program should involve:
- A public/privately funded bathroom and hygiene program offering training and outreach that educates and liaises with businesses on how to successfully open peer attendant-supervised bathrooms/showers to our unhoused neighbors. 2 Peer-attendant attractively painted “mural” port-o-potties at strategic spots. A public/privately funded community center with bathroom, laundry, shower, and locker units with programming encouraging shared housed/unhoused use of space. In the meantime a PDXPitstop style program could offer showers at key locations – we understand two trailers are in construction now. (Designed in partnership w/ Sisters of the Road, R2S, Katie Kalpakis & others).
The Jobs Development Program should involve:
- A public/privately funded plan for peer-run waste collection program to complement the Central City Concern Program – that would service houseless camps and vehicles with regular waste collection services without association with “One Point of Contact” complaints. This program would target those already working as informal can and bottle collectors, and would be part of a broader initiative to provide training and low barrier work opportunities. Additionally in the waste and recycling sector a plan for engaging can and bottle collectors has already been developed and is prepared to begin in inner SE Portland this Spring. (Trash for Peace)
- A peer-run attendant training program for peer-run bathroom and encampment aids/attendants — (NAMI, JOIN, Sisters of the Road, R2S, and Trauma Informed Oregon)
The Security Program should involve:
- A public/privately funded peer run, stable sleep area & nearby green space for all either in potential areas suggested by city employees or the Gideon Triangle –these would be based on the highly successful models of Dignity Village, Hazelnut Grove, and Seattle’s sanctioned encampments. (R2S, Dignity Village, and partners in Seattle could contribute)
- A private-public funded peer-run safe car-camping program run by faith community members, non-profits, and others similar to those in Seattle and Milwaukie Oregon.
- A modified security contract focused on trauma-informed community health, aid, and conflict resolution advocacy. (NAMI, JOIN, and Trauma Informed Care Oregon could contribute to this)
The Administrative/Governance Program should include:
- Allocation of funds to promote the CES’s alternate “Compassionate Change” model and tool kits in other neighborhoods.
- An annual independent audit of funds and practices used in the program available to the general public
- Elected representation of all stakeholders on the governing board – including renters, unhoused residents, low-income/ houseless service providers, other non-profits, business owners, property managers, and homeowners.
We are ready to begin collaborating on implementing this plan that might provide a true beacon. Together we can set an example of how communities can efficiently and constructively respond to the policy-generated humanitarian crisis we currently face.