Steps you can take to improve the livability of your own neighborhood, and all of Inner Southeast

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - This TriMet shelter, as it recently appeared on Woodstock Boulevard, shows what can happen these days in Southeast neighborhoods. TriMet has 7,000 such shelters in their system, and if a nearby business has not adopted a shelter, other resources may have to be called in for cleanup if TriMet is unable to assist in a timely manner.Over the past two years, keeping neighborhoods "livable" in Inner Southeast Portland, as well as throughout Portland, has been a challenge. The pandemic, economic insecurity, homelessness, drugs, and trash have at times seemed overwhelming.

Woodstock resident Sonja Miller is a licensed professional counselor, and has been using skills in retirement that she gained from her decades as Manager of Multnomah County's Children and Family Mental Health Services. Knowing how to access services and resources was crucial in that job.

As a current Board Member of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA), and a member of All Saints Episcopal Church, she is offering suggestions and resources to help neighbors stay on top of problems in the neighborhood.

In late February, she helped provide the list of resources found on the neighborhood association's website – – and in the monthly online WNA newsletter.

"For problems with 'campers', is the place to report," she advises. "Each report is assigned a case number and the follow-up can take a few days or a week."

You can report abandoned vehicles by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 503/823-7309. Criteria for such a report include expired plates by at least six months, no plates, vehicle inoperable due to no wheels, missing doors etc. Reporting is not difficult, since the menu walks you through the questions, and then asks if you want to remain anonymous.

On quite a few side streets there are piles of junk that stay for a long time unless reported. Miller has found that "Metro Rid" is a good place to contact if the site is abandoned. She recommends that you take a photo to email, and provide your contact information in case they have questions. For online reporting use this email address – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Because Metro takes care of junk for a large region, it cannot always get out very promptly. So Miller's experience with calling "Portland Comeback" has proved a positive substitute, although she cautions that the site must clearly be abandoned, so personal possessions are not removed. She says, "Response has been quite rapid – the same day, sometimes within a couple of hours." To report online, use this email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On some neighborhood streets the city has recently provided colorful 65-gallon trash cans painted with designs by local artists. City services empty the cans twice a week. North Portland is soon to receive 100 such new cans. In Southeast Portland the numbers of cans may be increased in the future.

Because mental illness cases in our communities have increased during the pandemic, readers may be encouraged to know that "Portland Street Response" has now been expanded to include more neighborhoods in Inner Southeast Portland. The program is a part of Portland Fire and Rescue, and assists homeless people or others on the street experiencing obvious negative behavioral health issues.

"PDXStreetResponse" can be contacted through various social media websites or by emailing – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – or by calling 9-1-1, or police non-emergency at 503/823-3333.

As many people know, hold times for the non-emergency line can be long, since it is also answered by the 9-1-1 operators, and emergencies take precedence. Miller advises, "Patience pays off. Have another task at hand [to decrease frustration during the hold time]. I have been using a variety of these resources, and have been getting good responses." 

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