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New Gresham neighborhood program keeps minor issues away from city code enforcement

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham City Councilors David Widmark and Kirk French lent a hand during the launch of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Tuesday morning, Sept. 18. As part of a new program aimed at dealing with low-level code violations through neighborly kindness, two Gresham city councilors joined with city staff volunteers to trim hedges and trees that are out of reach for a disabled homeowner.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors is Gresham's new, innovative way to help people with hardships, the elderly or infirm who have code enforcement issues on their property. The program will allow a team of community volunteers to deal with the violations, rather that immediately turning to punitive enforcement. The volunteers will assist the city's livability team with work party projects like hauling junk and debris, mowing grass and trimming shrubs.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Neighbors Helping Neighbors program deals with low-level enforcement issues through the work of community volunteers. "Government is often too quick to come sweeping in with the heavy hand of enforcement, instead of starting with the simple goal of gaining compliance," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. "This program gives us an outstanding new tool to come alongside our elderly and infirmed residents with helpful neighbors and volunteers to solve their code issues, instead of issuing violations and fines.

During the launch Tuesday morning, Sept. 18, in Gresham's North Central Neighborhood, the group of volunteers cut back out-of-control foliage, removed trash and leaves, and cleared the sidewalks for the resident who was unable to deal with the issues on her own. Councilors Kirk French and David Widmark lent a hand to the resident.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - During the launch of the new program, volunteers trimmed hedges, trees and removed debris from the yard of a disabled resident. "This is a great way for people in the community to help those in need," French said.

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors program is the latest development in the city's realignment of code enforcement services into its Office of Neighborhoods and Community Enhancement. Larger code violations such as sidewalks and roof repairs are not eligible for the program.

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