Terrance Moses began a one-man trash pickup operation in 2016 in North Portland, offering to clean up homeless camps along the Peninsula Crossing Trail.
Now, his nonprofit Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX is 64 volunteers strong—each logs four hours of garbage collection a month. Moses, who still completes his route daily, started dropping sandwiches and hand warmers at the camps as well. The route includes the neighborhoods of St. Johns, Arbor Lodge, Cully and Kenton.
“Our model was simple: build a bridge between the housed and the unhoused and help housed folks understand why people are living like this and how you can be a better neighbor to them,” Moses says.
He stresses his work is important because not only has the houseless population ballooned during the pandemic, Moses says the city’s appalling inaction to get people off the streets makes his services all the more necessary.
“It’s all about how you interact with them,” he says. “You have to humanize them because they feel so dehumanized.”
Moses adds that the reasons for our homelessness crisis are complex, but that sometimes people “take common sense out of the equation” when it comes to simple solutions, like helping someone keep their space clean.
“One of the first things I tell them is: I don’t work for the city, and I’m not here to remove you.”
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