Once again it’s been a busy month here at Human Solutions! Thanks to everyone for a very successful “Friends and Family” gathering at McMenamins’ Power Station Pub – we earned $3,000 because you came out to eat and enjoy each other’s company! We always appreciate the generous support of our local business community and your help in making that possible – thank you! Here are the top stories in our neck of the woods:
Introducing Lilac Meadows, our New Shelter for Families
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, 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 great.
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 builds 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!
Meet Pat, She’s Working Hard to Move Back Home from Homelessness
Pat met her husband 48 years ago at Jefferson High School in NE Portland, where she later worked as a school secretary - one of three positions she held over a 37-year career! Together, they have three kids and now six grandchildren - with another on the way in Atlanta.
But in 2013 the wheels came off for Pat, as they sometimes can, one at a time. First a separation, which led to Pat losing her home of 50 years in NE Portland. Next, she moved in with her daughter. When that situation didn’t last, Pat moved into her car, where she lived for two years. Ultimately Pat was left with nothing but the clothes on her back. That was when she reached out for help. She found her way to Human Solutions’ Gresham Women’s Shelter, a safe, welcoming environment to get the support it takes to find a stable place to call home.
Pat is scheduled to move into her own place next month, which is terrific news! Her journey back to housing stability took a lot of hard work on her part - and expert support on ours.
Will you help those experiencing homelessness in our community – like Pat -move into stable housing? The value of your support is truly priceless. Your support helps us work with people like Pat to secure and keep their next home – a place to do everything from cooking favorite meals to hosting grandkids for a special sleepover with grandma. Home is a place for kids to do homework, cuddle up in a warm bed, eat their favorite family dishes, and to simply have a play date with a friend. On any given night, 130 households (about 210 people) stay in our two shelters. We want to help every one of our shelter residents find a safe and stable place to call home.
Just click here to say yes. With community support we can help Pat - and so many like her – move from homelessness to housing. Together, this is something we can do!
East County Update: Relevant Data & Conversations
Human Solutions has been working in East Portland/East Multnomah County since we opened our doors in 1988. It’s our home. We are paying close attention to the changes here and to how those changes will impact our neighbors. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about the state of East Multnomah County – one of the poorest and most diverse areas in Oregon - and how we can move forward to ensure that current residents can thrive and resist the displacement projected as this area experiences redevelopment. Here are two data points that we are focusing on:
- 20% of households in the area live below the federal poverty level (on average, 2013-17). That’s higher compared to the state of Oregon (15%) and Portland metropolitan area (12%). For context, the federal poverty level is very low: $25,750 for a family of four, for example.
- 61% of renters are cost-burdened – which means they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing – the limit that HUD research shows is affordable for any household. Further, 35% of renter households are “severely” cost-burdened, meaning more than half of their income is spent on rent. For these families, homelessness is a real threat every month because they simply cannot afford to pay rent and meet other essential household expenses like food and medication.
You can read more about the report and the forum here. This is an important conversation we plan to continue until real solutions are identified.
This mother’s experience with domestic violence, poverty, substandard housing, low-wage pay without benefits, and government subsidies (that helped but weren’t easy) is an important eye opener for those who have not walked in those shoes. And one thing we can surely use more of today is more time spent in others’ shoes. This challenging time in Stephanie Land’s life takes place in the Pacific Northwest, too, so the backdrop is familiar and reminds us how close to home all this is.
“Rent plus groceries plus utilities plus laundry plus insurance plus gas plus clothing minus an hourly paycheck of barely more than minimum wage and the scant assistance parceled out by the government with spectacular reluctance — the brute poetry of home economics recurs throughout Land’s book.”
Read a review here and reserve it at Multnomah County Library here.
- New Ovens: Our emergency women’s shelter needs a stove/oven upgrade and two new refrigerators. We estimate the cost to be around $10,000. We cook three meals every day for 90 women and 40 families, and our current equipment is no longer adequate and beginning to fail. Contact Marci, our Emergency Services Director if you are able to help.
- After-School Program Volunteers: Our after-school program, LearnLinks, depends on volunteers to chaperone local summer field trips with kids in kindergarten to 8th grade. Got some free time this summer? Like working with kids? Great! Get in touch with our program manager Tonya Parson to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503. 548.0210.
Thanks, as always, for reading and paying attention to what’s happening here in East Portland/East Multnomah County. The need for change and investment is urgent and we are glad to have you as part of the Human Solutions family as we work hard to fulfill our mission.