The east side of Portland is getting a little cleaner thanks to an expanded program through Central City Concern that just launched this week.
The focus of the Clean Start program is removing trash and needles from campsites, and people who were formerly homeless are being brought on board as employees.
One area crews cleaned up Thursday was along Southeast 9th and Ankeny, where there was a pile of clothing and garbage in front of some of the businesses.
It’s not a glamorous job, but cleaning up city streets and campsites matters to Merv Myhrvold. Before he had this job, he was homeless, and being back out there collecting trash, needles and waste is a reminder of the life he never wants again.
“I can help them, and it helps me at the same time stay clean and sober,” Myhrvold explained.
Clean Start has been up and running for about a year throughout the city of Portland, and in that time, workers have collected more than 92,000 bags of trash and 44,000 needles.
Starting this week, the program is growing on the central east side, and Myhrvold is one of three employees who will work full time, starting in the industrial area and responding to complaints from the public.
“it’s a great opportunity for our employees who are all formerly homeless or struggled with addiction issues to become productive members of society again and give back to the community,” Jay McIntyre, program manager for Clean and Safe and chief liaison for Clean Start, explained.
“It’s a work in progress. It’s going to take a while to get it all under control, but we’re here for the business, man,” Myhrvold added.
The Clean Start program is a partnership with the mayor’s office and the Central Eastside Industrial Council.
Anyone who would like to report a problem with trash or needles can go to PDXreporter.org. The goal is to try and respond within 24 hours.
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