People camp downtown, along the former home of Nordstrom. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

On Thursday, Jan. 30 the city of Salem is closing and cleaning parts of downtown where homeless residents have slept since a citywide camping ban started in December.

It’s the third cleanup this month. Costs are mounting as city leaders grapple with what to do about Salem’s highly visible homeless population downtown.

Crews will be cleaning a portion of Liberty, Marion and Center streets starting around 9 a.m.

Salem City Council on Monday voted to transfer $30,000 from the parking fund to pay for sidewalk cleanups going forward, including Thursday’s, and for two cleanups earlier this month.

Heather Dimke, a city spokesperson, said the cleanups on Jan. 9 and 10 cost $14,796 to remove trash and pressure clean more than two blocks of sidewalk.

The city is using an existing contract between the state of Oregon and cleaning company ServiceMaster to avoid having to go out to bid on cleaning services, Dimke said.

She said the city plans to clean the sidewalks on an as-needed basis, which will dictate how long the recently allocated money lasts.

The council on Monday set a plan in motion to temporarily allow public camping outside of residential neighborhoods, city parks and downtown after weeks of searching for a temporary, low-barrier shelter came up emptyhanded. 

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.