“New Rosewood Plaza offers dependable oasis for homeless”

From the Gresham Outlook:

Six months ago, Chelsea George and her 17-month-old daughter Lucy had a bleak future. Lucy had an ear infection, Chelsea didn’t have a job, and the family had no place to live.

They stood in the now-closed Human Solutions family homeless shelter in Gresham (it’s since relocated a few blocks west to Portland) looking overwhelmed and scared

But on May 18, Chelsea and Lucy looked at peace and at home. In February, after seeing a flyer advertising a new mixed-use affordable housing and dental clinic complex at the shelter, the pair stood in line for nearly five hours to be one of the first families to apply to live in Rosewood Plaza

Just three days after George secured her spot, the waiting list for the 45 new and refurbished one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units at 18173 N.E. Couch Street had grown to more than 100 families.

Chelsea, 26, and Lucy look strikingly similar, with straight blonde hair cropped to their ears and brushed to the side. Chelsea has faint highlights of pink and blue running through her locks. The last time The Outlook interviewed them, Lucy was near inconsolable after spending all night in the emergency room to treat her ear infection. On Wednesday, the shy toddler showed off just a hint of a smile while playing a game of peek-a-boo.

George gets about $1,000 a month through social security and only needs to pay 30 percent of her income to live in Rosewood Plaza. Human Solutions even helped her with a payment plan to put down a security deposit.

She said living in the shelter was “exhausting and frustrating.” The transition to her own apartment was like “night and day.”

“We have a patio,” she described with excitement. “It’s nothing we could have afforded on our own.”

In the fall, Chelsea will head to Mt. Hood Community College to finish her degree to become a guidance counselor, and Lucy will go to the Head Start program across the street from Rosewood Plaza.

Chelsea said she suffered from anxiety and depression while at the shelter. But now? “I wake up every morning smiling,” she said.

On Wednesday, May 18, the mother and daughter celebrated the opening of Rosewood Plaza with a party thrown by the organizations that made it happen, Human Solutions and Wallace Medical Concern (WMC).

Human Solutions, under the direction of the former executive director Jean DeMasters, acquired the property in 2013. The project scope included a complete rehab of the existing 26 units and building a four-story complex to house a new dental clinic run by WMC and 19 more units of affordable housing owned and operated by Human Solutions.

Rosewood Plaza is an expansion of Human Solutions’ Rockwood Multi-Service Center campus located on an adjacent lot.

When the dental clinic is operating at full capacity, Wallace expects to provide about 7,000 visits annually to 3,000 patients, based on a sliding fee scale. The clinic includes seven exam rooms, an X-ray lab and facilities for simple oral surgeries.

A partnership with the Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry will place dental students in rotations at the clinic, expanding the availability of services and creating a pipeline of dental professionals skilled at serving low-income and homeless residents of Multnomah County.

Andrea Sanchez, the director of housing at Human Solutions, said Rosewood Plaza is opening at a critical time in East Multnomah County.

“This represents the connection between housing and healthcare,” Sanchez said.

The look of the new building is meant to send a message of “dedication and respect to our patients,” added Lisa Cline, executive director of Wallace Medical Concern.

The ribbon cutting ended on an emotional note, with Rosewood Plaza resident Rhonda Huggett presenting a giant teddy bear to the Human Solutions staff.

Through tears Huggett said, “I’m not on the street no more.”

Thank You, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon!

Human Solutions has been selected to receive a Summer Meals Support Fund grant from Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon to help meet our goal of making sure kids in our community have the fuel they need to learn and grow during the summer.

Thank you, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon! Your support will help our program reach more kids this summer with nutritious meals and activities.

Bank of America Foundation provides $7,500 grant

Willer + Barton BofA 2016

Thank you to the Bank of America Foundation for a generous $7,500 grant to support our programs that combat family homelessness. The Bank of America Foundation is a valued Human Solutions partner, having given more than $262,500 over the past decade to help carry out our important mission. Peggy Willer (left), Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking at Bank of America, and Monique Barton (right), Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Bank of America, presented Human Solutions with the latest grant.

County Chair Kafoury meets with AYCO

(from MultCo Global)

Chair Deborah Kafoury sat down for dinner and a conversation with Somali-American members of the African Youth and Community Organization (AYCO) Thursday night. It was the first in a series of meetings with immigrant and refugee communities as Multnomah County prepares its 2017 budget.

“My job is make sure we’re providing services that are culturally specific,” she said. “I want to learn from you how we can best serve you.”

Jamal Dar, a production supervisor at Nike, launched AYCO to give new refugees the support he lacked as a teen.

Kafoury gathered with a dozen community leaders and their families in the nonprofit’s snug, sparsely-furnished office on 122nd Ave.

“We’re very happy to have you here,” said Jamal Dar, executive director of AYCO (link is external).

Dar, a production supervisor at Nike and one-time track star, was born in Somalia and raised in Kenya’s DaDaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. He came alone to the U.S. when he was 15. He fell in with the wrong crowd, then he passed up an athletic scholarship to UCLA. He finally landed an internship at Nike and went to Portland State University.

Seven years ago Dar launched AYCO to give refugee teens the support he had missed. The nonprofit provides social services, English classes, homework help and disability services to about 7,000 families. Nearly 700 children participate in their sports program.

Dar said they hope to secure public funding to support paid positions for youth and crime prevention, a cultural navigator and a community health worker. But for now the nonprofit does all this without any paid employees or government support. Instead families – most of whom qualify for public assistance – donate small sums each month to pay the nonprofit’s rent. Volunteers staff the office and lead programs.

Amal Ahmed, the program manager for community engagement (and the night’s defacto interpreter), said they try to help families bridge the cultural communication divide.

“It’s difficult for us to talk about ourselves,” she said. “In Somalia, you say you’re fine. You wake up, you’re not dead, so you’re fine.”

Amal Ahmed is AYCO’s community engagement program manager. Like all AYCO staff, she’s a volunteer.

Even if you don’t have money to pay your rent, you’re “fine.” But here, when a social worker asked how things are going, they really want to know, she tells families. The program helps refugees learn to ask for help with housing, health and education, with an emphasis on empowering girls.

Abubakar “Askina” Sharif leads the nonprofit’s youth programs. Like executive director Dar, Sharif came alone to the U.S. as a teen, and floundered without support.

“I want the kids to have everything I didn’t have,” he told Kafoury. “I want them to get the opportunities I never had, the guidance.”

Saara Hirsi leads the AYCO disability services.

“For most refugees, if you’re disabled, there’s no hope,” she said. That’s what people thought of her at first.

Hirsi is legally blind.

“Everyone thought I should stay home,” she said. “But I said, ‘I need some education.’” Hirsi, a quietly powerful woman, found out about the Oregon Commission for the Blind, where she learned English. Then she earned a GED. Then she went to Portland State University, where she earned a degree in psychology.

When she graduated, she began volunteering at AYCO and launched the disabilities program. Most refugees when they arrive are told about social security benefits. They sign up and receive a monthly check. And that’s it.

At AYCO, that’s only the beginning.

“We can contribute; We can pay our taxes,” she said. She began training caregivers to advocate for services. Today AYCO offers English and art classes for disabled refugees.

“If they don’t come here, people would stay home, like in Africa,” she said. But “I come here, I see how much people change.”

Some of her students came Thursday night with their families.

Chair Deborah Kafoury hears from members of the African Youth and Community Organization.

Mariam Mohammed came with her daughter Nasra who has a developmental disability. They take English classes together. Ali Matan came with his son, who has a disability. Ali has four children with disabilities, and he walks with a cane himself.

“But I was put in a home with three flights of stairs,” he said. He asked Kafoury if she could help refugees with physical disabilities obtain single-level homes.

Others raised concerns about housing; Falhado Ali is an elderly woman who came alone to Oregon from the DaDaap refugee camp. Like all single refugees, she was provided $300 a month for rent.

AYCO’s Amal Ahmed took her in, charging $200 a month. Ali’s monthly stipend ran out three months ago. Now she stays with Ahmed for free.

Salat Ahmed said his biggest struggles have been academic.

He has six kids attending high, middle and elementary schools in the Reynolds’ school district. They came last year from a refugee camp, where school is an afterthought. Despite his teenage son having had just a few years formal education, he was put in a high school class. And he gets bullied by other kids because he can’t speak English yet.

Ahmed said he doesn’t know how to help his son, who has begun refusing to go to school.

“If there is anything that can be done about that,” he said.  “We feel we are underserved. The child is trying his best.”

“Thank you for sharing your personal stories,” Kafoury said. She gestured to the county outreach staff and health department executives who stood nearby taking notes. AYCO’s team could expect to hear from them again, she said.

“I hope this will be the first of many conversations.”

The next day her staff began calling departments to discuss the community concerns, Kafoury remained in awe of what AYCO had been able to do on its own.

“I came away more convinced than ever that we have to find ways to better connect families to our resources,” she said,” and support our immigrant and refugee communities so they get what they need to be healthy, stable and successful.”

Rosewood Plaza — Waitlist Open 11/16-11/23

Rosewood Plaza offers affordable housing along a vibrant and rapidly developing corridor.

We are located in the Rockwood neighborhood on the 181st Avenue Corridor—offering easy access to services, such as medical and dental clinics, as well as grocery stores, shopping, and a MAX station. Rosewood Plaza features units ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms.

Here is a list of some of the fantastic features at Rosewood Plaza:

  • Newly Constructed and Newly Rehabbed Units: All units at Rosewood Plaza are newly rehabbed or newly constructed and feature new interiors and appliances.
  • Community Room: There is a planned community space in the new building, which will feature exercise classes.
    Smoke Free Property: Rosewood Plaza is a smoke free property.
  • Onsite Laundry and Access to Storage Units: Rosewood Plaza is equipped with onsite coin operated laundry as well as additional storage units for resident use.

Rosewood Plaza has income restrictions, occupancy requirements, and student status rules, so please follow this link for more information: Rosewood Lease Up

euqal housing op

Jean DeMaster

Jean DeMaster’s Retirement Celebration

After more than 44 years of service to the community, including 13 years as the Executive Director at Human Solutions, Jean DeMaster is retiring. Please join us for a celebration of Jean and her years of dedicated service to helping vulnerable populations in Portland.

When: Wednesday, August 26th | Drop by Anytime Between 6-8:30 pm
Where: McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. | Portland OR 97211

 

RSVP REQUIRED FOR CATERING PURPOSES
rsvp@humansolutions.org or 503-548-0283

 

Make a donation to the Jean DeMaster Family Assistance Fund

Bank of America Merrill Lynch will match the first $2,500 donated!

Summer Meals in Portland

Summer Meals for Kids

Human Solutions recognizes the importance of summer meals for kids. That’s why we work with our partners to provide summer lunch’s at eight of our housing complexes. The lunches are provided by the Centennial, Reynolds and Gresham Barlow School Districts. We also received a grant from Partnership for a Hunger Free Oregon to support staffing costs. We provide parents and teens living in the complexes stipends to help serve lunches and organize fun activities for children. Last year, we served nearly 10,000 lunches, and expect to exceed that number this year.