Gresham city council, residents talk homelessness

Multnomah County

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — In the past 7 months, nearly 100 people who are chronically homeless have gotten off the streets and into housing in Gresham, the city council said.

Thursday night, Gresham residents shared their thoughts on the homeless issue in an open forum at the SALT Academy. City Council members Jerry Hinton, Eddy Morales and Mario Palmero were there. 

The city leaders made their approach to the homeless situation clear. 

“We do want to not enable; we want to be firm; we do want to be compassionate,” said Hinton. 

Officials also shared updated information on other progress they’ve made in the past year: More than 6400 bags of trash collected from public spaces, more than 300 homeless camps cleaned up along the Springwater Trail and other areas.

Local residents also expressed their worries and concerns. 

One man who lives in Gresham, John, spoke about the lack of restroom facilities for the homeless. 

“At night, some of them do find the need to sleep someplace and they also find the need to defecate or urinate someplace,” John said. “Is there a facility for people or someplace where they can relieve themselves if they do choose to stay downtown after hours?” 

City leaders said the lack of restroom facilities is deliberate: they want to encourage people to get off the streets and into permanent housing. 

Other residents brought up the need for community centers and specific resources for impacted children. 

Raul Rubalcava and his family of 5 were living on the street until homeless services stepped in to help. 

“Till this day every single night my children sit down and we pray ‘thank you for what we have,'” Rubalcava said. 

Gresham officials said that since October, they’ve housed nearly 100 chronically homeless. They hope to get even more people off of the streets through programs like Clean Start which employs those who were once homeless and gives them jobs cleaning up parks. 

“Lead with compassion and hold the line on livability,” said City Community Manager Elizabeth Coffey. 

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