PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 90-day reset plan initiated by the Old Town Community Association and city leaders shows there is still work to be done but things are “trending in the right direction.”
Old Town leaders, Mayor Ted Wheeler and PPB Chief Chuck Lovell held a Monday morning press conference to reveal the details of their 90-day reset plan.
Neighborhood leaders said they have seen “greater cooperation and urgency from the City and County, despite a lack of coordination from some nonprofit providers in the area.”
“Truly, the mayor showed up for us,” said Jessie Burke with OTCA. But it took effort from the association to shine a spotlight on the problems in the area.
“After a string of homicides, we brought attention to the two groups living outside — the actually vulnerable and those preying on the vulnerable. Organized crime has moved to Portland and it’s thriving in places like Old Town,” Burke said. “Our community watches stabbings, gun violence and assaults almost daily. Almost 100% of the victims are houseless.”
The 90-day plan, which was driven by the community, urged officials to “rally around clear steps and measurable goals to improve safety, cleanliness and accessibility in Old Town.”
In the 3-month period from March 22 through May 20, “reported drug offenses are down 51%, trespassing is down 93% and vandalism is down 13%,” Lovell said Monday. “There’s still work to do but these indicators are trending in the right direction.”
Kamelah Adams, who owns Mimi’s Fresh Tees in Old Town, said she’s seen a drastic change from when she first moved into the neighborhood.
There were “tents everywhere you turned,” Adams said. But in recent months, “I have seen a change. There’s some strong work being done in this community.”
Wheeler said he thinks “there will be bumps along the way. I think we’ve got a good formula here.”
The mayor noted the homelessness, crime, gun violence and graffiti were threats to the livelihoood of Old Town.
“You can’t come in and declare victory and walk away,” Wheeler said, but added, “We’re pleased with the progress so far.”
He noted the progress isn’t going as fast as some would like and shed light on why things got to the point they were.
“There’s always a wish we could do everything sooner,” Wheeler said. “During COVID, everything shut down, nor did we have the resources that are currently available. We’ve now passed 2 budgets and now I have a city council that supports these efforts.”
Adams is optimistic about the future.
“I’m proud to be a part of this community,” she said. “We are all in this together.”