Metro gets $10M in state funding for trash cleanup efforts

A worker in reflective clothing kneels with an old electric guitar beside a pile of trash on a roadside

Metro’s Regional Illegal Dumping Patrol knows how to have a little fun while cleaning up. | Photo via Metro

The Portland area is getting some much-needed spring cleaning thanks to newly-passed state legislation.

Under House Bill 5202, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, Metro — the elected regional government spanning Washington, Multnomah + Clackamas counties — will receive $10 million to support cleanup efforts in public spaces.

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How it will be spent
About 75% of the money will be used to develop new cleanup programs + support existing ones that provide resources to nonprofit and community-based groups, school districts, public agencies, and local governments.

Metro will also work with the Oregon Department of Transportation to increase the number of crews cleaning up trash dumped on property it maintains, and make it easier for people to get rid of hard-to-dispose-of things, like old RVs, boats, and hazardous items. The remaining money will be used to install more boxes for things like needles, replace old vegetation and signage, and reduce graffiti + fencing.

Something the funding won’t be used for? Moving camps or anyone experiencing homelessness.

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Why we need it
The Portland area saw a surge in illegal dumping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Metro decided to cut its sanitation workforce in half during that time, which didn’t help the situation.

“Government has struggled to keep up with the problem,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “We appreciate the Governor and the state legislature making this influx of funding available to support our efforts in the region.”

Metro has more than tripled the number of work crews since last summer. Its patrolling crews reportedly collect about 3 tons of trash each day + have already cleaned more than 1,400 sites this year.

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How to help
You can report trash on public property by calling (503) 234-3000; Metro said its average cleanup crew response time is two days. Or join a SOLVE cleanup event.

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