On Tuesday, January 15 the City of Salem led a coordinated response to connect people camping under Marion Street Bridge with the social services they need, and clean up under the bridge. Present at the clean-up were local housing, medical, food and other social service organizations, who contacted the roughly 30 individuals living under the bridge.
Onsite social services providers at the clean-up include:
- Northwest Human Services
- Mid-Valley Community Action Agency’s ARCHES program
- Union Gospel Mission
- Be Bold Ministries
- Inside Out Ministries
The City of Salem Public Works removed an estimated 16 dump trucks’ worth garbage and waste. Eight people accepted medical and/or mental health services. No arrests were made.
Food distribution will continue in the nearby ARCHES parking lot. The city and its partners remind residents and local organizations to distribute food in a manner that complies with state, county and city requirements. Service groups and individuals are encouraged to work with established organizations such as the Union Gospel Mission and Mid-Valley Community Action Agency to maximize the effectiveness of charitable efforts in the community.
In a press release issued by the City last week, city manager Steve Powers said. “The City’s chief priority is to keep all members of the community safe, including the homeless. Conditions under the bridge have deteriorated to the point that it is no longer safe for people to be there.”
The City received reports of crime, and illegal activates occurring under the bridge. These behaviors combined with the extremely unsanitary conditions in the area prompted the clean-up. On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, a team, including staff from the Union Gospel Mission, Mid-Valley Community Action Agency's ARCHES program and City Vibe, joined the City in posting a notice before the clean-up began. This was so people could get access to available housing, medical, and food resources, and have time to remove their belongings and leave the area under the Marion Street Bridge adjacent to Marion Square Park.
Reducing homelessness is a priority for the Salem City Council. Homelessness in Salem is a complex problem that requires long-term, committed partnerships with public and nonprofit agencies and organizations. Salem is taking a collaborative approach and adapting best practices to fit our community.