Nowhere to go: The efforts to address the homeless crisis in one large city

David Erickson

PORTLAND — Pedro Sanchez had been living homeless for 30 years when he got connected with a nonprofit called Cultivate Initiatives in Portland, Oregon. The organization has a “beautification team” composed of homeless individuals who are working toward permanent housing and formerly homeless people.

The team goes around town picking up trash and supplying garbage bags at homeless encampments. Sanchez was living in a church when he saw a sign about the team looking for new members.

“What it said was ‘help clean up Portland’ and man I said yes,” Sanchez explained, taking a break from filling a huge trailer full of litter. “Because everybody’s talking so bad about this town and I’m tired of it. They gave me the initiative to just go and do something. And at the end of the day, or at the end of every little project we do, I mean, that’s so gratifying. It’s kinda like we’re taking Portland back.”

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