PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — City officials held a press conference Thursday afternoon where they announced new programs for the homeless.
Starting in September, the city will team up with service providers to get help to homeless people. Mayor Charlie Hales said the program will be called the High-Intensity Street Engagement effort. It will focus on housing placement and retention efforts for those who need the greatest amount of support.
Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, the Urban League of Portland, the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest and the Portland Police Bureau’s Neighborhood Response Team will all be part of the project.
They mayor has budgeted $1 million for this new program, which will help 50 households.
“It is expensive but not compared to the alternative. If you ask us what we spend in the Portland Police Bureau to deal with mental health crises on the street every day, it is more than this,” said Hales.
Starting in October, the Day Storage Pilot Program will provide houseless people a place to leave their belongings for the day. There will be two storage sites available, one on the east and one on the west side. There will also be dumpsters and toilets.
The city is also working on a one-point contact system for people who want to report problems with illegal camping sites or other related activity. Citizens will be able to call, text or email problems to one location. That will also roll-out in October.
The Portland Business Alliance is pleased something is happening, but they would like more enforcement.
“Drug use in our parks is illegal, camping is illegal. We need a zero tolerance approach to that,” Sandra McDonough with the PBA told KOIN 6 News.
Hales said don’t expect overnight campers to disappear anytime soon.
“We can not simply chase this problem around with law enforcement.”
Hales said if these new programs make an impact, he will devote more money from the budget.