PORTLAND -- Nicely landscaped flowerbeds with fresh mulch were on display in Old Town China Town Friday afternoon. Just hours earlier, the same flowerbeds were infested with weeds and blackberry brambles.
"We're giving the neighborhood a face lift," said Helen Ying with the newly formed Old Town China Town Neighborhood Association. The group is behind a two-day all-volunteer cleanup that started Friday morning.
It's a neighborhood filled with homeless shelters and nightclubs. The cleanup was an effort to attract customers to businesses and restaurants during the daylight hours.
"I think it will serve as a positive influence for people," said Steve Heddon, a volunteer who is a homeless resident at Portland Rescue Mission.
While Heddon says he doesn't have a drug problem, many of his fellow residents do and every time they step back onto the streets they run into drug dealers. It's a vicious cycle and earlier this month, fed-up neighbors brought home video of the constant drug dealing to Unit 8.
"They will pull and tug on you," said coffee shop owner Robert Jungic. "Just walk up Flanders and even if you're wearing a tie they will pull on you."
As KGW reporters walked up Northwest Flanders Street, they witnessed what appeared to be a drug deal within about a minute.
Drug dealing has been happening in this neighborhood for decades. Cleanup organizers know the problems in Old Town China Town run deep, but believe sprucing things up can only lead to positive changes.