Announcing Lilac Meadows – a new shelter for families experiencing homelessness

We are thrilled to share the news with you that our emergency shelter program for families has found a new permanent home! In partnership with the Joint Office of Homeless Services (an office that coordinates resources to address homelessness from the City of Portland and Multnomah County), Human Solutions will be moving our program that supports families experiencing homelessness into a wonderful new shelter called Lilac Meadows in SE Portland, where the need is so great.

Human Solutions has been providing emergency shelter and pathways back to permanent housing for families experiencing homelessness for decades. Over the years, we have updated our programs based on best practices and an evolving understanding locally and nationally about how to best work with families experiencing homelessness so they can quickly and sustainably move forward into their own safe, affordable place to call home – something we believe everyone deserves. Stable housing is the essential first step towards long-term economic security.

Best practices for providing emergency shelter for families

To open Lilac Meadows, Multnomah County is “master leasing” an existing motel that we will update to best serve families experiencing homelessness. Human Solutions will sublease the motel from the County and operate it as a shelter. Residents of Lilac Meadows will enjoy the privacy that works best for families – something lacking in older-style mass shelters where everyone sleeps in the same room. We worked actively with the Joint Office of Homeless Services to identify a location that offers amenities families need, like a nearby park and grocery stores, access to public transit and ample parking. In this new home, we can accommodate up to 40 families at a time. Human Solutions will provide families at Lilac Meadows with caring support, help accessing community services and assistance finding and securing their next permanent home. Our program at Lilac Meadows will build on our strong track record helping families find – and keep – permanent housing. Last year, 93% of the households we helped find housing remained housed a year later!

Redeveloping the former shelter site into permanent affordable housing

You may recall that last year we decided with officials at Multnomah County to close the Human Solutions Family Center due to leaks in the ceiling at the mass shelter space. Since then, we have continued to provide shelter and services for families experiencing homelessness in area motels. When we purchased the Family Center property in 2015, our plan was to use the well-worn building as a shelter for a short-term period and then redevelop the site into badly-needed affordable housing. With the pending opening of Lilac Meadows, we have determined not to reopen the building as a shelter and are now actively planning to build a new permanent affordable housing community on that site in close collaboration with neighborhood stakeholders. Before deciding to relocate, we thoroughly assessed that space for its appropriateness to serve as an ongoing shelter and decided with the County to move forward with repurposing the site. Watch for news from Human Solutions as this project moves forward. We are very excited about the potential for this site to provide permanent homes for families experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity!

How can you help?

Our emergency shelter programs are actively supported by community members – in fact, we couldn’t do what we do without you! If you’d like to be part of this exciting opening and ongoing family shelter program, here are our top needs at the moment (stay tuned, needs change over time!):

  • Make a gift to our fundraising campaign! We are working hard to raise $50,000 for this new location to complement public funding. Human Solutions will be responsible for on-site programming for kids, three meals/day for all residents, staff training, installing garden beds, and more. Click here to be part of getting this amazing new space off the ground!
  • Make & serve meals. Human Solutions prides itself on providing nutritious meals for shelter residents three times a day plus an after-school snack for kids. Our amazing Volunteer and Donations Coordinator Christina is the right person to contact to learn more and sign up; reach her at
  • Shop our Amazon Wish List. This has got to be the most effective way to donate exactly what we need! Shelter staff maintain this Wish List so you know you are donating exactly what is needed. Check it out and send what feels right to you. We’ll put it all to good use!

As we prepare to settle into our new space with resident families, we will keep you updated about progress and changing needs. THANK YOU for all that you do to lend a helping hand! The families we work with struggle against so many structural barriers put in place by a system that simply does not work for everyone.

If you would like additional information about the new shelter, please visit County’s informational page.

We deeply appreciate the incredible community support that has long been afforded to families experiencing homelessness in our area and look forward to continuing that trend as we transition to this new location.

April News from Human Solutions

We are moving past the extreme cold weather, which is a relief for our community members trying to survive on the streets. Here’s what’s happening this month at Human Solutions:


We hope you’ll grab a bite to eat with us tonight (Tuesday, April 9th) at McMenamins’ Power Station Pub @ Edgefield. All are welcome, including kids! McMenamins will generously donate 50% of the evening’s proceeds to Human Solutions (thank you, McMenamins!). What a fun way to support a good cause! Human Solutions’ management and staff will be there to welcome and visit with supporters. We hope you can make it!


The Fair Housing Council’s 2019 Poster Contest winner. Created by student Jaytee Franko.

April is Fair Housing Month, and our partners at the Fair Housing Council of Oregon deserve a big shout out for the work they do every month to ensure that every Oregonian is treated fairly when they seek housing. The Council tells us that they are frequently asked, “Is discrimination really still a problem?” Their resounding answer to this question is “YES!” We invite you to take a spin around the Council’s informative web site to familiarize yourself with the law and how unlawful housing discrimination continues to impact Oregonians. If you have a question or a complaint related to illegal housing discrimination, call (800) 424-3247 ext. 2.The Fair Housing Council offers phone support in whatever language you need. The Council offers information and services for individuals and for folks in the housing industry to help them comply with the law.


We offer employment services to very-low and no-income adults seeking to boost their earnings and pursue living-wage careers. Living Solutions is one such program, with a focus on people who live in Gresham. Our career specialists provide one-on-one support to:

  • identify career paths
  • plan how to move forward toward a goal
  • connect folks to skills training (think: healthcare, driving, construction)
  • offer resume and interview coaching
  • provide rent assistance when needed (it can be a challenge to pay the rent while in unpaid training programs!)
  • supply new work clothes
  • and more!

Half of the people we work with in this program come to us with no income at all (and some lack housing, which we help them with). The success rate is pretty impressive, with an average annual income boost of $15,000 and a 365% return on investment over a 6-year period. We’re grateful to the City of Gresham for the support they provide for this work.


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!


Mitchell S. Jackson has a new book out. The topic he tackles, growing up black in Portland (not Portlandia, as he says) couldn’t be more relevant to the housing crisis and the way some people are more impacted than others – and always have been. Oregon Public Broadcasting recently shared a fascinating conversation with Mitchell as he and the host of “Think Out Loud” walked the streets of Mitchell’s childhood; a place where the show host now lives. You can listen here – and the book is available from our local library, which offers paper and e-reader versions.

For a national and historical perspective on racism in Portland, this Atlantic article from 2016 remains relevant.

Monthly Giving @ Human Solutions: Become a PATHBuilder Today!

Human Solutions’ PATHBuilders program is an excellent way to conveniently support the work we are doing to help people in our community get back on their feet in this housing crisis. If you believe, as we do, that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, this new program is a great way to be part of the solution. Sign up today! (Or call Matt on our team and he’ll help you get signed up: 503.548.0279)

Thank you for reading – and especially for caring about those in our community experiencing the devastating impacts of poverty and homelessness and wanting to change the broken policies that cause them.