HYGIENE4ALL Advocates for a city that protects and enhances the public health of all of its residents, regardless of housing status or identity, by providing equitable and welcoming access to the public hygiene, health, and sanitation resources and infrastructure required for human dignity.
From 3-9 PM, four evenings a week, Hygiene4All offers showers, bathrooms, first aid, health access, a clothing and bedding exchange, and waste disposal guided and operated by houseless residents. Collaborating with unsheltered staff and local experts, we have painstakingly developed training and practices focused on (1) community safety planning and de-escalation, (2) mental health first aid, (3) sociocratic decision-making (4) recognizing and disrupting the kinds of racist, anti-LGBTQ+, sexist, and ableist harm that too often plague our BIPOC, Queer, Gay and Transgender constituents on the streets and when seeking assistance from traditional providers. Additionally, we research and document the unmet needs and barriers preventing our constituents’ access to the basic hygiene, health, sanitation, and well-being.
Much more than jobs and services, the Hub fosters a space for inquiry, sanctuary, and community where self-determination, advocacy, and civic participation can bloom.
Bottom Line for Portland
We were made by community, for community.
For more than two years, we talked with people living on the streets in Portland about the services they needed and how they wanted them delivered. Then a rainbow of unsheltered and sheltered friends and allies came together a year ago to build our hygiene hub on the Central Eastside, under the Morrison Bridge.
We train our unsheltered staff and housed volunteers in community safety planning and disrupting identity based harm to offer our unsheltered community members what they said they most wanted:
Freshly sanitized port-a-potties and hot showers
- Community health workers connecting patrons with health insurance & appointments, SNAP, & more
Foot and wound care first aid kits
A place to exchange and recycle dirty clothing and bedding for clean items
A special place of respite, safety, and community building
As Commissioner Meieran said on our opening day, our little hub stands as proof of what we can “accomplish when we get together, and work with people who are most impacted by our different and ineffective systems and figure out what people genuinely need and want.” A visit to the Hub for foot care can circumvent visits to the ER, which frequently ends in the loss of toes, feet, or legs. As Commissioner Eudaly passionately stated: “It shouldn’t be this hard to do something this essential.” We agree. Our purpose is to pave the way to making it easier.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Our DEI work involves regularly training staff and volunteers (a) how to recognize and name harmful actions or power imbalances that typically crop up in any group work involving a diverse range of participants (b) how to access our accountability process when that occurs, and (c) how to take responsibility and plan steps to repair damage swiftly with support from the team.
This is community mental health work, helping us build more equitable processes that foster personal and organizational learning. Through it we aim to stop harm, learn and heal from our mistakes.
H4A's board and staff reflect the diversity of experiences within Portland's unsheltered communities - including Black, Latinx, Native American, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Queer members with experience living on the streets.