Do′s and dont′s, common scenarios, and how to help when encountering our homeless neighbors.
Make eye contact and talk kindly to people who are without homes.
Refer people to ARCHES: open Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
- 615 Commercial St. NE.
Call the Crisis & Information Hotline at Northwest Human Services, 24/7. 503-581-5535 or 1-800-560-5535.
If someone is being disruptive, homeless or not, try to de-escalate the situation, if you are comfortable doing so.
If someone is threatening harm to self or others, acting recklessly or violently, or having delusions, call 9-1-1 and ask for a mental health-trained officer.
Install good lighting around your home or property.
Let people know your boundaries on your property. If people are doing something illegal and won't leave, call the non-emergency police line: 503-588-6123 or 9 1 1.
Keep the area in front of your home or property clean and well maintained. Keeping your area clean encourages others to respect the area.
Assume people know your expectations.
Offer food or money, unless you are equipped and willing to handle repeat requests.
Permit anyone to camp on your property, unless you have developed a trusting relationship with them.
Permit anyone to store shopping carts or personal belongings on your property.
What to do if
Someone is sleeping/loitering on your property:
Odds are, this won′t be a one-off interaction, so it's good to establish a friendly relationship. Introduce yourself. Ask for the person's name.
Politely ask them to leave using sincere empathetic language that deflects the request from yourself to a third party (e.g. the property owner asks them to leave, even if that person is you). This reduces the power-dynamic, and will help in future interactions.
Let them know where they can be, such as the day room at ARCHES or Union Gospel Mission, as opposed to only where they cannot be.
If they are not cooperative, tell them you are going to call the police, but would rather not. Avoid confrontation and keep a safe distance if you feel threatened in any way. Call the non-emergency police line at 503-588-6123, and if they become disruptive or dangerous call 9-1-1.
Someone exhibiting disruptive mental health symptoms has walked into your business:
If they purchase something, treat them like any other customer. This sets a great example for your employees and patrons. If they do not make a purchase, let them know this area is for customers, and politely ask them to leave, only if you would do the same for a nonpaying patron who is not homeless.
If they are symptomatic and disruptive, ask them to leave clearly and politely. Your safety, and the safety of your patrons is your priority. If they remain in the facility, call the non-emergency police line. Based on the situation, you may want to call 9 1 1 if the situation feels dangerous.
What to do when you want to help
Keep in mind
Many organizations directly help people experiencing homelessness and work to increase affordable housing. One thing you can do as a business is find an organization that you want to support, and ask them what they need.
Salem′s homeless service providers know how to help our homeless neighbors. It′s what they do best. The more you support them, the more they can help people get off the streets and into stable housing.
Avoid perpetuating stereotypes, stigma and myths. People experiencing homelessness are not defined by their housing status. It's often temporary, and it′s likely they′ve sought housing and/or shelter and there was none available.
Advocate within your circle of influence to help make things better for our neighbors who are homeless. This will help our business community too.
Who to call
503-588-6368 Salem Housing Authority
503-399-9080 ARCHES to help connect the person to resources
800-560-5535 Northwest Human Services Crisis Line
503-588-6123 for non-life threatening concerns (Police Non Emergency)
- 9 1 1 for life threatening or safety concerns