PORTLAND, Ore. -- Simply having a dry, secure place for the homeless to keep their things during the days, seems to be changing lives for some people on the streets of Portland.
A shipping container under the west end of the Steel Bridge was converted into a storage locker six months ago. It was a slow start for people, getting used to something new, and trusting that their belongings wouldn't be rifled through.
"People were unsure, they didn't know it was here, they were worried about their stuff being safe," said Jay McIntyre with Central City Concern.
But six months have gone by, and people are coming around. The list of daily clients filling up a whole page for the first time. It's a benchmark.
"Twenty-three people utilized it today, which is a fantastic number," McIntyre said.
Lawrence Wilson is one of those people who regularly uses the storage locker.
"I dropped my backpack off here and I went and found some good things to happen for me," he said.
Wilson doesn't want to be homeless. It happened through unfortunate circumstances, he says. He's on the wait list for housing and is looking for work. The storage locker helps.
"If it were not for the people and citizens of the great city of Portland, this wouldn't be here and maybe I wouldn't feel like my dignity and pride is still intact, and I can go out and present myself to the public, not just as being homeless but being someone who is homeful."
Other transients like John agree.
"You won't even get work because they'll think, 'How is he going to work with all that luggage?'" he said.
Central City Concern runs the program and says three to four homeless clients who used the locker now have housing, and four to five others have gotten jobs.
The city paid $67,000 for the first six months. And the feedback has been so positive, they're looking at locations for a second one. Another shipping container is being used in the same way at the Hazelnut Grove camp in North Portland, but is not run by Central City Concern. Instead campers run their own program.
Neighbors at apartment buildings and condos nearby have said the storage locker has made a huge difference in picking up trash.
"When they were talking about putting this storage container down here, there was pushback from neighbors and businesses thinking it would draw negative attention, negative behavior," said McIntyre. "Now that's it's been here awhile, they've seen the positive impact that it's made, they don't want it to move."
When employees aren't checking items in and out, they are picking up garbage all along this section of the waterfront. Regular joggers in the area tell KGW it's never been this clean, because those belongings are in the locker, not spread out on the ground.
Officials from Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco have called to hear about this program and possibly bring it to their cities.