Houselessness is a civic and public health crisis in Portland.
Over 2,000 people live without shelter in the city, a situation that leaves our unhoused neighbors vulnerable to constant displacement, theft, beatings, and rape as well as hunger, pneumonia, and anxiety and depression. These conditions, in turn, often cause more physical and mental harm and addiction.
One of Portland’s main responses to this crisis has been “sweeps” – forced closures of tens and camps which remove and push houseless people daily from one set of streets to another, often stripping them of their personal identification, medicines, and shelter. These sweeps cost Portland taxpayers $3.5 million in 2018.
The loss of belongings and repeated ticketing and arrest – as well as chronic health and hygiene issues – generates a spiral of trauma that further harms and isolates people.
We have imagined a new way:
We have created a system of mutual support for our houseless neighbors that keeps Portland’s streets clean, safe, and healthy for everyone – a way of working that reduces violence and trauma and builds dignity, connection, and community.
At Hygiene4All we:
Value collaboration, empathy, and solidarity and recognizes and embrace everyone
Believe that every Portlander deserves dignity and a say in how our city runs
Use a service model with months of input from the unsheltered, as well as data and expert advice from government and nonprofit partners
Hire and pay unsheltered community members and showcase the unique skills, perspectives and leadership ability they bring to our work and city
Train all staff and volunteers to care for people with trauma without inflicting additional harm, as well as conflict de-escalation and disrupting racist, sexist, xenophobic, and anti-LGBTQ+ harm
Value the self-determination, knowledge, and ingenuity of our houseless residents, who represent our most historically marginalized communities
Embrace innovation and work with government, nonprofits, neighborhoods, and the business community to reduce houselessness and the harm it creates