City Council Approves Grant to Fund Clean Start PDX

A few months ago Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and members of Eliot neighborhood met to discuss trash and livability issues in our inner northeast neighborhoods. Eliot has seen an increase in litter and debris related to the Moda Center and homelessness. We agreed to talk to Central City Concern about their Clean Start Program.

Clean Start has existed in the downtown corridor as ‘Clean and Safe’ for many years and has been recognized for its success. Clean Start employs individuals who have experienced homelessness and pays a living wage with benefits. Employees are also given vocational training, case-management and increased access to services. Job duties include trash and litter pickup, biohazard disposal, graffiti removal and various other issues related to livability.

In the course of talking to Central City Concern we learned that the price for one full-time employee was between $83,000 – 90,000 per year. This was obviously a steep hurdle. We also learned that Central Eastside Industrial Council was contemplating a similar project. NECN decided to pitch a pilot project that would bring Clean and Safe to the inner-east side roughly encompassing Eliot neighborhood, half of Lloyd and about a third of Central Eastside.

At about the same time the Mayor had indicated a plan to move Right to Dream Too, a safe sleep site, to the Lloyd District. NECN began to advocate for this pilot project to various actors at the City and County. In an unrelated meeting NECN pitched the project to David Austin, the interim Director of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Austin was very positive about the idea and pledged $40,000 if NECN could get the business community involved. After a meeting with Central Eastside Industrial Council, NECN secured firm buy-in from community groups, business and government all in a period of a month and a half.

Meanwhile David Austin, had brought the idea up to the Mayor’s office who had pledged an additional $20,000. Several meetings later and after full fleshing out the proposal, the full City commitment was at the requisite $90,000 to initiate the pilot project.

In coordination with Central City Concern the pilot project is now called Clean Start PDX and the grant allocation passed City Council unanimously on the 14th of June. NECN will receive the grant from the City within the month and work with Central City Concern to get the project up and running, we are aiming for mid-July.

By Adam Lyons

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