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Old Town stakeholders give disgruntled progress report on area cleanup plan

Old Town leaders are not happy with the progress on the 90-day reset plan put into place last month.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Old Town leaders and business owners came together on Thursday to update the public about the 90-day reset plan meant to repair and reopen the neighborhood.

The plan was put into place in March, and now the allotted time is almost halfway over. The goals included reducing property crime, removing graffiti, making sidewalks more accessible and improving overall safety.

Ian Williams owns Deadstock Coffee on Northwest Couch Street near 4th Avenue.

"My nephew's car has been stolen three time," Williams said. "Other people's cars that manage my shop have been stolen from the front of the shop in the daylight."

When it comes to what still needs to happen, leaders said abandoned cars still need to be removed, and there's only been a moderate decline in tents on the streets.

Jessie Burke is the owner of the Society Hotel and chairs the Old Town Community Association.

"The homicides that happen are almost exclusively our homeless population," Burke said. "We can no longer differentiate between the predators and the prey."

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Burke said the new goal for Old Town is to have nobody living on the sidewalks. 

"It's not safe, and I'm not going to pretend that a small decline in our tents is improving our safety here," Burke said. 

Burke said sidewalk accessibility is still an issue. She and other neighborhood leaders renewed their call for help from the city and the county.

"I get a lot of communication response from city commissioners, I don't get the same response from the county," Burke said. "I'm tired of the county getting a pass on this — public health is the county's responsibility."

Burke said the city has done well in removing the graffiti, a piece of the plan was done on time.

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Officials with Multnomah County said in a statement it's a mischaracterization to say that the county is not doing what it committed to.

Meal service inside Blanchet House starts on May 2, and at least two peers will be assigned there with supervisor support to meet the need. Contracts with the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon and Blanchet House have also been signed.

The county said it is also opening a behavioral health resource center in downtown this fall to further meet the mental health needs of struggling people.

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