Back to School

Hard to believe, we know, but it's nearly time for back-to-school supply shopping! Which can be a very exciting time for kids, unless their families aren't able to provide the tools their kids need. To that end, Human Solutions has put together a list on Amazon of the key items we know the kids who live in our affordable apartment communities need most. That way, you can just click and send - we'll do the rest!

Take a look at our list and send some supplies our way, please! The volumes are high because there are LOTS of kids in our housing, but you can just buy the amounts that work for you. If you're the type to make it a clean sweep and fulfill the whole order, we won't turn you down.

THANK YOU FOR MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR KIDS IN LOW-INCOME FAMILIES TO START SCHOOL WITH ALL THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO SUCCEED!

eUpdate: See you on the 20th (and other news)!

We hope you are staying cool in this heat! Despite it being the dog days of summer, we have a lot going on at Human Solutions - and we’re writing today to share it with you. We would be delighted to share more with you in person - and answer your questions - at our upcoming Happy Hour at the Oregon Public House. It’s this Monday, August 20th - details are just below.

You’re Invited! Join us for a Casual Happy Hour & Conversation 

We’re hosting a casual happy hour at the Oregon Public House in North Portland - and we’d love for you to be there! With homelessness and the local housing crisis on everyone’s minds,  this is an opportunity to connect with experts from Human Solutions who are in the community every day providing emergency shelter, working with community members to find and stay in stable housing, and supporting people’s goals to get a job through skills training and career coaching. Here are the details:

  • WHAT: A casual happy hour gathering to learn about the local housing crisis, how Human Solutions is working to solve it, and how you can help. We’ll have knowledgeable staff on hand to answer your questions.
  • WHEN: Monday, August 20th from 5 - 8 PM, program starts at 6:30 PM
  • WHERE: Oregon Public House @ 700 NE Dekum in N. Portland (here’s a map)
  • WHY? You care about the future of your community, you believe people deserve a stable place to live, and you want to be part of the solution!
  • KIDS? Bring them, too!
  • FOOD? The restaurant and bar will be open for business! In fact, Human Solutions will receive a portion of the day’s sales to fuel our work. So eat and drink up!
  • RSVP? Just show up! We’ll be glad to see you 🙂

Cooking Classes with Kids: The Pizza Challenge

We’re grateful for our partnership with Oregon State University Extension’s Food Hero program, which sends experts to our affordable housing communities to teach kids how to cook healthy food that can easily be cooked at home. Recently, they made pizza - actually, they took a pizza challenge. Read all about it here. Warning: it may make you hungry! And it will definitely make you smile 🙂

 

Walk With Us for Immigrants & Refugees: Sunday, August 19th 

We are proudly participating in this important solidarity walk, hosted by Parks for New Portlanders in partnership with Sunday Parkways, which is the same day in outer NE Portland. Human Solutions is joining with community members and elected leaders for a one-mile walk from the brand new Discovery Park (we had tons of fun at the grand opening earlier this month - see below) to Knott Park, alongside our refugee and immigrant neighbors in a show of support. This event recognizes the unique experiences of new Portlanders, of all ages and backgrounds.

Everyone is invited to join this walk to inspire a more compassionate, generous, and welcoming Portland! If you’d like to walk with Human Solutions, just meet us by the giant chess board in Discovery Park (near the corner of 106th & Halsey) at 10:45 AM. We’ll be findable in Human Solutions t-shirts! Details here and an event Facebook page to invite friends here.

Welcome to Gateway Discovery Park!

What a day! On Sunday, August 4th we participated in the grand opening festivities for Portland’s newest park in East Portland’s Gateway neighborhood. We’re excited about this new public gathering space for many reasons, but a few standout:

  • Outdoor public gathering spaces like parks are essential for healthy communities where all neighbors can share space that is free and welcoming to all.
  • The Gateway neighborhood has been asking for and waiting for this kind of public investment and community asset for nearly a decade. East Portland has long been underinvested in, but that is beginning to change.
  • Human Solutions’ next affordable housing community and service center will be built adjacent to this park, a wonderful combination of
    housing and outdoor access and space. We can’t wait to be there!

Thank you to all the people and partners who made this incredible space a reality - especially our great partners at the City of Portland, Portland Parks & Recreation and Prosper Portland.

Congratulations! Another Human Solutions Employee Wins an Award!

We are so proud of Nancy Jason, Human  Solutions’ Eviction Prevention Manager, for earning this year’s HILLTOP Award for Agency Staff/Volunteer Achievement. After years of working directly with families experiencing homelessness, Nancy now supervises a team and advises our senior leadership on best practices, helping to instill a culture of trauma-informed care at the agency and to grow the agency’s equity committee to better reflect the role that institutional racism and bias plays in poverty. In her own words:

“My own family lived close to poverty as an immigrant family in New York, but we also had a lot privileges because we were Asian,” Jason said. “You can give someone a house, food and clothing. But it's not just about those resources. It's also about shifting a whole society and making a shift in people. It’s asking not, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ but ‘what’s happened to you?’ It helps get things in perspective.”

You can read the full announcement from Multnomah County here.

Thanks, as always, for reading. I sincerely appreciate your interest in and support of our work in the community. In coming together we are more powerful in our efforts to solve one of the biggest moral crises of our day.

The Pizza Challenge

The Pizza Challenge

“I want to give you a challenge, a pizza challenge to try one new topping on your pizza. Will you accept this challenge?” asked Rebecca Marson, Program Assistant with Oregon State University’s (OSU) SNAP-Ed program. For the last three summers, OSU Extension’s Food Hero program has come to Arbor Glen, one of Human Solutions properties, to teach elementary school children how to cook nutritious meals.

Gathered in the classroom at Arbor Glen's community space

 

One summer Tuesday, nine kids raced up the stairs to accept her challenge. The ingredients they chose from included foods from all the MyPlate food groups: green peppers, red onions, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. In place of dough, they placed their toppings on half of an English Muffin, which the My personal pizza recipe from Food Hero suggests (it’s do-able at home!).

Like true chefs, the kids sampled the ingredients before designing their pizza. Of course not every child was eager to experiment with new flavors! When asked about her favorite toppings, Harmony answered “olives and bacon.”  She piled olives on top of her pizza until they were falling off.

There is an incredible sense of community among these kids; they are eager to help each other. Julian, one of the youngest, asked for help crafting his pizza, until he saw his friend JuJu making one all by himself. Wanting to be like his friend, Julian tried to make his own but when he struggled a bit, MaKaylah, one of the oldest, stepped in to help him.

Tristan with his pizza art

While impatiently waiting for their food to cook, the kids colored pictures of pizzas. “This pizza has a lot of colors,” Tristan said, as he was eager to show off his artwork. Food Hero recipes incorporate colorful ingredients, so they’re not just nutritious but appealing to kids, too.

All Food Hero recipes meet rigorous recipe criteria, including:

  • Appropriate for a busy household.
  • Utilize limited number of ingredients.
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
  • Are low cost.
  • Nutritious (of course!)

Time to eat! Yum 🙂

Pizza is certified kid-friendly, but some of the program’s recipes have really expanded beyond stereotypical kid food. Dished like Asian Beef and noodles, Mushroom Bulgur pilaf and Banana pancakes. The kids LOVED the pancakes. “We cut up the bananas,” Shaelynn recalled her favorite part of making the pancakes. When asked about what other tools she used, she shouted with joy “THE SMASHER!!”

OSU’s Rebecca asked the kids to raise their hands if they thought they could make the pizzas at home, and all arms shot up with smiling faces. Kids are encouraged to take recipes with them as they leave. Harmony grabbed an extra pizza coloring page for her brother, who is too young for the class, and decided her mom also needed one.

We are grateful that OSU’s Extension Program partners with Human Solutions’ Resident Services team to provide such fun, hands-on programming for the community. They work hard to bring opportunities like this for residents to master new skills.

Neighborhood Affordability, An Invitation & Your Impact

Happy summer from everyone at Human Solutions! We hope you are finding some time to enjoy the good weather and long days. We remain busy and focused on completing our 5-year strategic plan and our day-to-day work in the community where the need is greater than ever. Here are some highlights from our work as well as relevant news we think will interest you.

How affordable is YOUR neighborhood?

Every year the National Low Income Housing Coalition issues a report about housing affordability compared to wages called “Out of Reach.” The 2018 report is now available online and we highly recommend it – here’s a link to the Oregon data. In addition to interesting national data to give you a sense of how this issue plays out across our country, there’s an interactive tool (scroll down on this page to find it) where you can enter your own (or someone else’s) zip code to get affordability analysis about your own neighborhood!

A quick overview of the findings for Oregon doesn’t surprise us:

  • In the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area, it takes 2.4 full-time minimum wage jobs – or an annual income of $53,000 - to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.
  • The “housing wage” in our area is the highest in the state at $25.58/hour. (Housing wage = hourly wage needed to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at fair market rent)
  • 40% of households in our area are renters.

For those earning less than 30% of the area median income (many of the people we work with), the monthly affordable rent is $611 (for a 2-bedroom unit).

“Thank You” from a Grateful Mom & Dad

We want to share a thank you letter with you. It came to us from parents - with a small but meaningful financial contribution – because two of our amazing staff had worked with their child who was in crisis. You can read the whole letter here. As a parent, this letter really hits home. Here’s an excerpt:

Please let [your staff] know how much we appreciate her being non-judgmental, compassionate, and responsive. It is very difficult for some people to ask for help, to reach out, to expose one’s vulnerability. [Your staff] made a traumatic and somewhat embarrassing situation less difficult to process. She is amazing. Thank you for helping the sons and daughters of worried and helpless moms and dads.

While we’ve blocked the names of our two amazing colleagues mentioned in the letter for privacy, we are not surprised at their incredible and kind work - and we are proud to have them on our team. At Human Solutions, we know when we receive a letter like this that it is supporters like you who make this life-changing work possible!

Give Now: Make a Difference in Someone’s Life Today!

When you give to Human Solutions, you are making a real difference in the lives of people like these parents, paving the way for her to move from homelessness back into stable housing. As I am sure you see every day in the Portland area, too many of our community members are experiencing housing instability and homelessness thanks to our high and rising housing costs. It’s so important for all of us to be part of the solution.

One way you can do that is by making a gift to our work with the most vulnerable in the community. Just click here to be the difference in your community. We’ll put it to work right away providing emergency services for the neediest among us, helping families keep their housing, and supporting those ready to pursue their dreams. Your gift means:

  • Homeless children and their families have emergency shelter
  • Families are keeping their housing
  • Job seekers are going to work
  • Kids from low-income families are getting homework help
  • Parents are learning key child rearing skills

Thank you for helping with a gift today to keep this meaningful work going strong. We appreciate your generosity!

Join us at the Oregon Public House!

Big thanks to the Oregon Public House for welcoming Human Solutions as their “Charity of the Day” on Monday, August 20th. We hope you will save the date to join us for a happy hour where you can grab a bite to eat and connect with our staff experts to learn about issues that are on everyone’s minds: how are we helping people experiencing homelessness find stable housing? How are we helping to solve the housing crisis? What is working to create a community where everyone can afford stable housing? Come at 5 pm for the Happy Hour prices, stay till 6:30 to hear from Human Solutions' program experts. Invite friends and remind yourself with our Facebook event. I look forward to seeing you there!

Our Ballot Measure Endorsements for November

It’s high summer now, but we’re looking ahead to fall when you’ll be voting on several important ballot measures. Human Solutions has endorsed several and we want you to know which ones and why:

  • Metro Regional Housing Bond. The Metro Council is asking voters to support a $652.8 million regional affordable housing bond that is expected to construct new low-income homes for up to 12,000 people around the Portland metro region within seven years. That's about 3,900 homes. We’re pleased that up to 50% of that housing would be for people earning 30% of the region’s median family income, and no more than 10% of homes would be offered to people making 60-80 % of the median family income. Half of the new homes will be large enough for families to comfortably move into, with at least two bedrooms. Learn more.
  • State Constitutional Amendment. The state legislature referred a constitutional amendment to voters in its 2018 session that would allow bond revenue to fund nongovernmental affordable housing (unlike Portland’s housing bond which is limited to government actors meaning slower application of funds to the problem). This will ease restrictions on spending so the money can go farther, by relying more on nonprofits and the private sector to help build housing. Learn more.
  • Portland Clean Energy Fund. The Portland Clean Energy Fund is a story about us creating our own clean energy future, where new renewable energy and energy efficiency investments improve our homes, improve our city’s environment, train our workers, and support our businesses. The Portland Clean Energy Fund will lift up a community-led vision that builds resilience and wealth in the face of climate change and federal inaction. Our community can take proactive steps to fight climate change while addressing social and economic inequity by providing major new economic opportunities for low-income Portlanders, including communities of color and women. Learn more.

Thanks, as always, for your interest in our community and support of our work to make it work better for more people. We appreciate you!

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!

Dennis’ 7 Dees Reindeer Magic Blanket Drive

Each year, Dennis' 7 Dees hosts a blanket drive for Human Solutions at their Reindeer Magic event.
The event features live music and live reindeer, a holiday train, a visit from Santa, and more!
Bring a new or gently used blanket for families in need.

Saturday, December 2nd, 10 AM - 5 PM at Dennis' 7 Dees, Lake Oswego (Tickets available here)
Sunday, December 3rd 10 AM - 5 PM at Dennis' 7 Dees, Cedar Hills (Tickets available here)

Happy Holidays, from Human Solutions!

Join us 9/7/17 11 AM to 2 PM in Pioneer Courthouse Square for The Standard’s Volunteer Expo!

Coming up on Sept. 7th in Pioneer Square, join us from 11-2 at The Standard’s Volunteer Expo. Discover volunteer and donation opportunities that fit your skills and interests. #VExpo17

Thank you, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon!

Special thank you to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon for coordinating a fun Summer Meals kickoff party at the Human Solutions' Family Center this past Friday.

Thanks also to Portland Timbers and U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder, Darlington Nagbe, who stopped by and enjoyed a healthy summer lunch with kids at Human Solutions' Family Center. Organizers served a free meal as part of the Summer Food Service Program to about 85 kids from Human Solutions' Family Center and two other nearby Home Forward affordable housing communities.

Thousands of kids around the state depend on free or reduced lunch during the school year.  Now that school is out for summer, families can check out summerfoodoregon.org for free meals for kids at sites around the state!

Wells Fargo Donates $10,000 to Support Women’s Shelter

A $10,000 grant from Wells Fargo to the nonprofit Human Solutions will give women experiencing homelessness a chance to rebuild their lives.

“We appreciate Wells Fargo’s continued support of our work. We will use this grant in a variety of ways to help our clients heal from the trauma of homelessness and, in some instances, domestic violence,” said Hillary Houck, Human Solutions’ Chief Program Officer.
Based in Portland, Human Solutions will use the gift to help fund its staff costs; new workshops and programs; and skill-building activities at its Gresham Women’s Shelter.

The shelter provides emergency accommodations for up to 90 women 24/7, 365 days per year, while they search for their next home. It includes a kitchen, laundry services and showers.

The shelter also provides free programs to help guests update their resumes, fill out job and rental applications, learn about their rights and responsibilities as renters, and grow their own vegetables. Other activities being funded by the grant include writing workshops and nail art instruction.

Human Solutions will also use some of the grant to buy nutritious food for the shelter’s new Quarterly Dinner Program where teams of disabled youth are paired with an adult mentor, chefs from New Seasons and several of the shelter’s guests to cook a community dinner and eat together.
“It’s important for the community to know about the hard work Human Solutions does and the compassion it has for those in need,” said Wells Fargo District Manager Andre Moreno, who volunteers on the Human Solutions board. “Every dollar or item donated and every minute spent volunteering helps support others in our community.”

“Human Solutions helps people secure their basic needs. We provide a critical level of support that some families and individuals may not have elsewhere,” said Executive Director Andy Miller.

Human Solutions welcomes volunteers at its Gresham Women’s Shelter or its Family Shelter in Portland. The Family Shelter also accepts donations of food and hygiene products. Those interested in helping can go to www.humansolutions.org for a list of needed items and for volunteer information.

“We are only as strong as those around us. When we extend a hand to the vulnerable, we strengthen ourselves as team members,” Moreno said. “By providing support and resources to women who are struggling, Wells Fargo is combating poverty and homelessness in our neighborhoods.”

Soar With Us event

Thank You for Soaring with Us

Human Solutions Soar with Us Gala raised more than $105,000 to support our programs and services for vulnerable families on our community!