eUpdate: It’s Nearly Summer!

As summer nears, we’re as busy as ever at Human Solutions. But we did squeeze in time for an all-staff retreat last week, where we snapped this pic of our whole team:

We came together at the retreat to exchange ideas about the 5-year strategic and equity plan we’re working on. After 30 years, we’re excited to focus our work on equity, systems change, and long-term positive outcomes for the people and places in East Portland/Multnomah County. Stay tuned - we’ll be rolling it out soon!

ANNA'S SUCCESS!

Just $107 stood between Anna, a resident at one of our rental housing communities, and a possible eviction back in October. Anna is the sole provider for her husband and their 6 year-old daughter, because dad had a chronic health condition that prevented him from working. When Anna became pregnant, she got quite ill for a month and was under doctor’s orders to not work. Without any other source of income, the family was at risk of eviction and Anna felt she could not take time off.

Human Solutions provided rent assistance to the family, making it possible for Anna to rest per doctor’s orders and return to work without endangering her or her baby’s health. Anna and her family were able to come through this unexpected financial crisis and keep their housing - because they received rent assistance at a critical moment. In such cases a little truly goes a long way.

OUR CFO IS ONE OF THE BEST!

Chief Financial Officers aren’t usually the people you first think of when you think of an organization. But they are critically important to the stability and sustainability of an organization. Human Solutions is thrilled to have had Tanja Lux serving as our CFO for over two years now. She has the mind for non-profit finance in a complex organization and has helped us identify areas for improvement and ways to ensure we are here for the community for years to come.

It was no surprise to us that Tanja was a finalist in the Portland Business Journal’s “CFO of the Year” awards program. Thank you, Tanja, for your smart thinking and dedication to our organization and mission. We’re sure glad she’s on our team!

VOLUNTEER TO COOK A MEAL AT OUR WOMEN’S SHELTER

We’re excited to roll out a new way to volunteer at our women’s shelter: join us to prepare a Seasonal SundaySupper. Here’s how it works: every quarter when the season changes we gather to cook and serve a meal together. It’s a fun and rewarding way to serve and connect with your community.

Our 2018 dates are: Sundays June 24September 23December 23, and March 18, 2019. Learn more and sign up here. Join us!

 

WHAT WE NEED NOW

At an organization like Human Solutions, we always need a few things to deliver our services better. Right now, we need:

  • 4 farmer’s market style tents. We need them to provide shade when we distribute food from the Oregon Food Bank this summer.
  • Basketball gear for teen kids. Six boys who live in our affordable housing communities have an opportunity to attend basketball camp for a week this summer, and we want to send them with the right gear so they can fit in and feel a little special. Ideally they can select shoes, shirts and shorts, and a ball themselves. Maybe even a great duffel! (New items only, please!)
  • Diapers. We can never have enough for the families we work with. When money is tight, people make trade-offs. Diapers are expensive so it’s one way we can help their budget.

If you’re the right person to provide any (or all!) of these items, please be in touch with Andie at 503.548.0283 or adoo@humansolutions.org. Thank you!

FREE SUMMER FUN & MEALS

School’s nearly out and you’re likely wondering what the kids are going to do all summer – and worrying about how much it will cost.

  • The City of Portland has a great guide to a whole lotta free summer fun – check it out!
  • The City of Gresham has a free “Summer Kids in the Park” program to look into, too! Learn more.

When school’s out, so are free and reduced breakfasts and lunches, unfortunately. This guide will help families find the nearest summer meals program – just enter your city or zip code to find out.

SAVE THE DATE: OUR 30THANNIVERSARY GALA & AUCTION

We’re planning a big party to celebrate our 30th Anniversary on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Please mark your calendars now, and we’ll be back to you later this summer with details. Here’s a link to learn more – including how to sponsor the event and donate to our auction. See you this fall!

Thanks, Volunteers!

eUpdate | April 16, 2018

Hello from Human Solutions!

Well it's been another busy few weeks in East Multnomah County! I hope you'll take a moment to see what's going on - and how you can engage, including nearly 10 job openings!

LIKE TO COOK? HAVE WE GOT A FUN ROLE FOR YOU!

We provide emergency shelter to thousands of adults and children every year and we work hard to provide three square meals a day for all. Currently we are seeking cooked meals for large groups – as in 90 people. While that may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be! We have kitchen facilities and when you go with dishes like lasagna, spaghetti & salad, or a hearty soup with bread, it starts to sound easier 🙂 You can also put together sack lunches - with a hearty sandwich and piece of fruit! This a perfect service activity for students, families, workplace teams, churches, and more. Get details and sign up by contacting our amazing Emergency Services Volunteer Coordinator, Christina, at: CNewcomb@humansolutions.org.

 

IMPORTANT BOOK ON HOUSING ISSUES

If you’ve not yet read Matthew Desmond’s important book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, we highly recommend it. According to one reviewer,

Evicted is a superbly written, often harrowing case study of eviction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that also shines a light on the income inequality and housing crises occurring in cities across the U.S. Matthew Desmond combines sobering research with fascinating portraits of the families and landlords trapped in a cycle of poverty and eviction, paying special attention to the plight of children. Given the growing conversation about Portland's housing shortage and homeless population, and ongoing revelations about Wall Street's ties to the predatory mortgage industry, Evicted qualifies as a must-read. It's one of the best books of 2016: sad, maddening, beautiful, and necessary.”

No time to read? Then listen to the radio interview here.

WORK WITH US! WE’RE HIRING.

Human Solutions is a rewarding place to work. We’re hiring for a range of positions right now and encourage you to see if there might be a good fit for you or a friend. Take a look and spread the word

WATCH THIS: The Numbers

With Oregon exploding onto the national scene in the last decade, becoming one of the most popular destinations to move to, the area east of 82nd Avenue—including East Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, and Fairview—has come to be affectionately called “The Numbers.” It has one of the area's highest concentration of school-age children, a sky-high poverty rate, and an uncommon diversity of race, ethnicity, and language.

New businesses, new people, new income—what does this all mean for The Numbers? Here’s what some young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 had to say about how they envision the future of their neighborhood.

SAVE THE DATE: NEW 30THANNIVERSARY GALA & AUCTION DATE

We’re planning a big party to celebrate our 30th Anniversary – and we shifted the date to make it the best one yet. The NEW date is Saturday, November 17, 2018 (it had been April 7, 2018). Please mark your calendars now, and we’ll be back to you this summer with details. Here’s a link to learn more – including how to sponsor the event and donate to our auction. See you this fall!

Thanks for reading and for always supporting Human Solutions and the wonderful folks we serve.

Yours,

Andy Miller, Executive Director

PS – Care to make a donation online? It’s easy right here – and thanks!

Fair Housing Laws

April is Fair Housing Month. Last week, Multnomah County highlighted the work of the Housing Stability Team which works to ensure people who already have homes don’t lose them. And this week we're making sure everyone knows what laws protect them from housing discrimination in Multnomah County.

Help keep our community safe and ensure equity by sharing, printing and posting the poster below in any area where people may see it.

Download, print and post the fair housing infographic poster.


Infographic text:

There are fair housing laws to protect you in Multnomah County

The federal Fair Housing Act and the Fair Housing Amendment Acts, Oregon law, and Multnomah County protect you from discrimination.

No one can discriminate against you because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Marital status
  • Source of income
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation including gender identity
  • Family status
  • Domestic violence
  • Disability
  • If you are age 18 or older

Fair housing laws apply to:

  • Individual homes, duplexes, multifamily housing (apartments, condos, and townhomes), retirement housing, adult foster homes and long term care facilities, homeless shelters and other nonprofit housing.
  • Sales, rentals, mortgage lending, building and construction, home insurance, appraisals, and inspections, land use regulations, zoning, as well as neighbor-on-neighbor harassment.

You might be experiencing discrimination if:

  • Someone refuses to rent to you or terminates a lease because you’re in one of the groups above.
  • A landlord creates different terms or standards for different tenants.
  • A landlord refuses to make reasonable accommodations for a tenant with a disability.

Who to contact if discrimination happens:
Call the Fair Housing Council of Oregon(link is external) at (800) 424-3247 ext. 2 if you believe that you or someone else have been victims of illegal housing discrimination. Remember to: 1) Write down what happened, including dates, times, who was involved, as well as the names of possible witnesses. 2) Keep an ongoing list of events. 3) Save any written materials that relate to your case. The Fair Housing Council will advise you of the appropriate next steps and may refer you to services and organizations that can help.

We Enthusiastically Endorse Measure 26-197 to Renew the Portland Children’s Levy

The Portland Children’s Levy was created by voters in 2002 and overwhelmingly renewed in both 2008 and 2013. In the 15 years since voters first approved the Levy over $150 million has been invested in over 50 organizations. Levy funds have annually supported services for more than 14,000 children and hunger relief services to more than 15,000 children.

The organizations funded by the Portland Children’s Levy are committed to providing programs in the following areas:

  • Child abuse prevention and intervention: protecting children from terrible circumstances, which also addresses juvenile crime, school failure, drug and alcohol abuse and homeless youth.
  • Early childhood programs: preparing children for success in school and making quality childcare more affordable. Ensuring that children arrive at school ready to learn also assists our schools and teachers.
  • After school, summer and mentoring programs: promoting academic achievement, reducing the number of juveniles victimized by crime and increasing graduation rates.
  • Children in foster care programs: giving foster children a better chance at success with educational support, mentoring and access to mental health services.
  • Child hunger prevention: improving children’s access to nutritious meals, leading to better physical and mental health, as well as academic success.

On May 15th Portland voters have the chance to renew the Portland Children’s Levy (Measure 26-197) and continue funding for this great program. A Yes vote for Measure 26-197 does not increase the rate but instead renews the Children’s Levy at the same tax rate we are paying now.

A Yes Vote also continues the other parts of the levy that make it both effective and accountable. The Children’s levy only supports programs that are cost-effective and proven to work. The levy is overseen by a five-member Allocation Committee who ensures that there are annual independent audits and that administrative expenses are limited to 5% or less – a commitment they have kept for over 15 years which allows 95 cents of every dollar to go directly to programs.

Renewing the Portland Children’s Levy is an important way to say that in Portland we care about our kids – and put those values into action every day. Please Vote YES for Measure 26-197 by May 15th. More information is available at the campaign’s website: https://voteyesforportlandschildren.org/.

Human Solutions Statement on OPB’s Series about the Family Center

Dear Friends & Supporters of Human Solutions,

Like many of you, I woke up Tuesday, February 20th to hear a sobering, difficult and, in places, one-sided account of the history of our Family Center by OPB reporter Amelia Templeton. We welcomed Amelia into our Family Center a few months ago to help tell the hidden story of family homelessness from the perspective of our shelter guests - who are struggling to secure permanent housing within a system stressed and overcrowded by the increasing demand for services, compounded by the local housing crisis that has made shelter stays too long and exiting homelessness into permanent housing a very difficult process for most of our families.  

Amelia’s reporting changed over time to focus on what she believed to be a history of issues with our acquisition of the site, health and safety concerns with our building and low-barrier approach — a system that for most of our time in operations turned no family away. We cooperated with her reporting, provided her access to our staff and guests and shared documentation of our historical efforts to address conditions at the shelter in a timely and thorough way. The first of Amelia’s reports aired on the 20th, and we understand additional reporting will air over the next several days.   

While today’s report questioned the safety record at the Family Center, we  believe a more fair and balanced portrayal would have focused on the balancing act our staff was asked to perform daily and nightly as we managed - in the most compassionate way our limited budget and staffing capacity allowed -  an ever-growing demand for shelter in an aging building. We acquired the building over two years ago in cooperation with our partners at Multnomah County as a site to provide temporary shelter because - with modest modifications and public investment - the building provided a significant upgrade from our previous shelter site that lacked showers, laundry, sleeping cots and a kitchen.  The relatively low level of required public investment stemmed from the fact that the building, while aging, included an operable kitchen, ADA compliant restrooms and infrastructure that could easily accommodate the addition of needed showers and laundry facilities. It was located near transit and in the area of the County in which many of our clients called home before experiencing homelessness. Our plan at acquisition was to operate the shelter on a temporary basis for 5 to 6 years — the “best guess” anticipated lifespan of the aging roof - after which we planned to tear the shelter down and redevelop the site into badly-needed affordable housing.  We would use that window to work with Multnomah County on plans for a more permanent shelter.

Almost immediately after opening in February, 2016, Human Solutions experienced a substantial increase in demand for shelter services and, unlike any other shelter in our community, we turned no family seeking shelter away. In order to accommodate every family who needed shelter, we made use of overflow space across the street in a church as extra sleeping space to accommodate the high demand. That meant that the shelter’s showers, laundry, kitchen and common areas were regularly very crowded, and that the infrastructure at the shelter was used more heavily than anticipated.  Last winter, the building’s roof, predicted at purchase to have about five years of usable life, took the beating of an icy, rainy winter and showed its age. Recently, we have had to tarp the roof to stop small water leaks and ultimately have decided with the County to temporarily suspend operations while we assess the condition of the roof and other major infrastructure. We will be completing that assessment over the next few weeks to determine what investments will be required to safely and sustainably reopen the Family Center. 

Last fall, as our nightly shelter census expanded to almost 500% of what our average census was at the time we planned the acquisition and opening of the Family Center, we worked with Multnomah County to suspend the “no turn away” model to reduce crowding and improve conditions for guests and to create a more manageable workload for our staff. It was a difficult decision that likely put some families in need of shelter at risk of living on the cold streets. But it was the right decision for our operation and has made a difference in our ability to support families in the Family Center and nearby emergency stay motels and - perhaps most importantly -  to successfully move more families into permanent housing.

We take any and all safety and health concerns seriously.  This week’s OPB story was sobering, and we will stay tuned to the balance of OPB’s series and may post additional comments and factual clarifications. While we appreciate that conditions in the heavily used mass shelter were at times crowded and that maintenance and sanitation issues in an aging building presented constant challenges, our team responded quickly and diligently to concerns as they were called to our attention. Mass shelters are hard, stressful work environments, and we salute and uphold our Family Center workforce that continues to support our sheltered families, for now in local motels.   

We will be using this pause in our shelter operations and the current reporting to assess how we can better support our shelter teams to respond to the emerging needs of our guest families as we move forward. Excellence is always our goal, and we will do what it takes to serve our community to meet our highest standard in everything we do. While we acknowledge that we did not meet that standard every day at the crowded Family Center, we believe our record of caring compassionately for the safety of families we serve is strong and that the context in which we have been working was important to share with each of you. We found the omission of that context from the report deeply troubling.      

We appreciate your continued support of Human Solutions, which includes not only emergency shelters but also permanent affordable housing, resident services, and employment support for many who call East Multnomah County home. If we can answer any questions you may have about these stories or our work, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are as committed and passionate as ever about our work to not only provide shelter to families experiencing poverty and homelessness, but to support them on a pathway to a better place.  

Yours,

Andy Miller, Executive Director

On behalf of the Board and staff at Human Solutions

 

Family Center Update

As you may have heard, Human Solutions made the difficult decision with our partners at Multnomah County on February 7, 2018 to temporarily suspend operations at our Family Center Emergency Shelter while we investigate the status of our roof. The building’s roof has experienced some slow leaks that have caused some areas of the ceiling to peel away. Safety for our guests and staff is our number one concern.

Families staying at the shelter have been relocated temporarily to area motels where they will be safe and supported while we complete an assessment of the aging roof and ceiling structure. After a building safety assessment is completed, we will provide an update as to whether and when the Family Center might reopen. Until then, we will continue to support and shelter families already staying with us off site.

Families needing shelter or assistance should contact 211 or visit 211.org for additional information about available shelter beds in Multnomah County.

We are grateful for the outpouring of community support for both the clients we serve and our shelter facility.  We welcome your help – in fact, it’s part of how we do what we do every day. While the Family Center is being assessed, we are asking volunteers to help us in two ways:

  1. Provide food to relocated families by buying easy-to-cook food from our Amazon Wish List. It’s super easy: you shop online, Amzon delivers it to Human Solutions, and we distribute it to families.
  2. Volunteer at our Gresham Women’s Shelter, which also depends on volunteers to make and serve meals to our 90 nightly guests. Contact Christina for details and to sign up (cnewcomb@humansolutions.org).
  3. Visit our volunteering page for all opportunities with Human Solutions.

If you are interested in providing construction materials or services at the Family Center to help reopen it, we ask that you email Christina (cnewcomb@humansolutions.org) so she can keep you in mind if/when that need arises. We are working hard to complete an efficient but thorough building assessment in a few weeks time.

THANK YOU for you continued support of our clients and our work in the community. We appreciate you!

The Numbers

"With Oregon exploding onto the national scene in the last decade, becoming one of the most popular destinations to move to, the area east of 82nd Avenue—including East Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, and Fairview—has come to be affectionately called “The Numbers.” It has one of the area's highest concentration of school-age children, a sky-high poverty rate, and an uncommon diversity of race, ethnicity, and language." -- from The Numbers

In May of last year, Oregon Humanities released "The Numbers," a video project by Sika Stanton and Donovan Smith documenting the hopes and concerns of young people living in East Portland.

Learn more about the young people involved in "The Numbers," part of Oregon Humanities' "This Land" project, on their  website.

 

Human Solutions Family Center guests collaborate with local photographer

Guests at the Human Solutions Family Center collaborated with photographer Rachel O’Rourke to share their stories. During a 10-month social practice project, they captured what it’s like to be forced from home following experiences like job loss and escape from domestic violence.

These photographs are on display until February 25th, 2018 at the Collins Gallery (inside Multnomah County Central Library) as part of the "Migration Patterns: Mapping Our Journey" exhibition.

Human Solutions

Property Management Request for Proposals

Human Solutions Inc. (H.S.I.) is seeking proposals from qualified property management firms (PM) to manage five of its affordable rental housing communities.  Details about the location, size and make-up of each property are located on the last page of the referenced Request for Proposal (RFP).

Human Solutions Inc. is a private, nonprofit Community Development Corporation that has been providing social services and affordable rental housing for over 27 years in East Portland and Gresham. Human Solutions Inc. has a strong commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity, and expects the firm we choose to manage our properties to embrace these core values, and our mission. Our portfolio consists of 17 properties with over 700 units. At this time we are looking for a qualified Property Management firm to manage five of the 17 properties. Three of the five properties have commercial space leased to other nonprofit organizations.

The full request is available here: Property Management RFP

Please direct any questions you might have regarding the RFP to Kristin Strong at kstrong@humansolutions.org on or before Friday, December 15, 2017.
Proposals/Responses due by Friday, January 5th, 2018