Hillsdale Assistance Team Works to Improve Bertha Viaduct Camp

[Posted Friday, April 9, 2021]


As part of an on-going effort, trash has been collected and a port-a-potty installed at the camp under the viaduct on Bertha Blvd just west of the Hillsdale business district.


On Saturday, April 3, a team of about 15 made up of Hillsdale Assistance Team (HAT) volunteers and camp residents cleaned up much of the site in about two hours, gathering trash to be collected at a later date.

After discussions with the City on providing toilet facilities were unsuccessful, the group ordered up a port-a-potty paid for by donations from HAT members and others. Weekly service and rental fees for the portable toilet total $123 a month. The unit has been installed on the east side of Bertha Blvd, now vacant after the last group of campers moved away. A resident from the west side of the street has moved over to the other side to be able to keep an eye on the much-needed sanitation necessity.


Next on the agenda for HAT are plans to address hygiene needs, such as showers and laundry. The group will also explore options to create cleaner, more attractive, better organized transitional housing clusters of no more than six units. HAT has also begun to investigate other sites and to reach out to neighbors about the needs of those living outside.


Cascadia Clusters, a non-profit shelter-building program headquartered on SW Capitol Hwy next to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, has similar plans in the works that may result in collaboration with HAT on Hillsdale projects.


In partnership with community non-profit WeShine, Cascadia Clusters has applied for funding to work with neighborhood associations and community members in Hillsdale, Kerns, and Sullivan’s Gulch, to site and develop micro-villages of up to six tents, tiny houses, or parked RVs and cars. Cascadia Clusters and WeShine invite all community members to an open house from 10am-2pm on Sunday, April 11 at 6651 SW Capitol Hwy to learn more about the micro-village concept and the services they will provide. (Scroll down for the event flyer).


Several concerned residents, business owners, faith leaders, and local service organizations have teamed up to form HAT. The organization, which began meeting just two months ago, is slowly building relationships with encampment residents.


Rick Seifert, who originally saw the need for HAT and called the first meeting, points out that the issues raised by these camps extend beyond homelessness and impact everyone in the community. “Homelessness isn’t going away anytime soon,” said Seifert, who fears that the numbers of people displaced from their homes is expected to increase as eviction moratoriums expire and foreclosures increase.


Seifert emphasizes to members of the Hillsdale community that HAT and Cascadia Clusters are working on transitional housing leading to permanent housing. Plans are in the works for a community event to prompt discussion on the homelessness problem and possible solutions. Details will be announced later.


“We invite those who, like us in HAT, are fortunate enough to have housing security, to call upon their own kindness, generosity and patience as we find solutions to homelessness that help everyone.” Contact Rick Seifert (wfseifert@gmail.com) to learn more about the Hillsdale Assistance Team.


--Valeurie Friedman

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