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Metro gets extra $10 million in state funding to address Portland area's trash problem

Most of the money will go to cleanup programs, doubling the number of crews responding to reported dump sites.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Metro will receive an additional $10 million in state funding to pick up dumped trash around the Portland area, a problem that spiraled out of control during the pandemic. 

The regional government agency oversees most garbage collection in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties. 

Most of the money, which was allocated in House Bill 5202, will go to cleanup programs, doubling the number of crews responding to reported dump sites from six to 12.

“Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in the amount of illegal dumping and littering, and government has struggled to keep up with the problem,” Metro Council President Lynn Peterson said in a statement.

Metro's garbage cleanup crews, RID Patrol, have cleaned up more than 1,400 sites since January, Metro said. Last March, it took an average of 39 days for crews to clear a reported dump site. That wait time is now closer to about three days. 

Metro tracks reported dump sites and cleanups on an interactive dashboard.

RELATED: Impact of a single homeless camp: $18,347 in cleanup, 1,000+ complaints, endless conflict

"I think you'll start to see results in the coming months and into the summer," said Metro Councilor Duncan Hwang. "The RID Patrols we have going out now are collecting three tons a day, and we'll be adding significantly to that capacity."

Metro said it plans to work with ODOT to increase cleanups along ODOT-controlled land like highways, and to pursue more voluntary disposal options for items that are difficult to get rid of, like derelict RVs and boats, hazardous materials and needles. 

Metro also plans to expand programs that provide resources to nonprofits, school districts and local governments that would allow them to handle more dumped trash on their own. 

Additional money will go toward things that would address recurring problems, like installing sharps boxes and fencing, graffiti abatement, planting trees and replacing signage.

What Portlanders won't see is Metro clearing homeless camps. The state required that the funding be used solely to "collect, dispose of and increase capacity for dumped garbage" and cannot be used to move camps or fill budget shortfalls. 

RELATED: Portland transfer stations overloaded by garbage backlog

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