I hope this message finds you and yours healthy – and that you are finding hope for the future we are building together. This moment is a stark reminder that our current economic and housing systems are failing too many of us. At the same time we are more inspired than ever to keep doing what we have been doing: partnering with people to push back against the oppressive forces that make it harder and harder for people struggling to meet their needs. One thing is for sure: those who are oppressed by the systems that are failing them are the best architects of an equitable future. As a multicultural organization, our job is to center their experiences, voices and ideas as we build a better tomorrow. We are living in tumultuous but exciting times, and we are glad you are here with us to make the very most of it.
In this month’s eNews we have a smorgasbord for you, from a new shelter to volunteer opportunities and a fall event you won’t want to miss.
New (Temporary) Emergency Shelter: The Chestnut Tree Inn
For a handful of years Human Solutions has partnered with Multnomah County to operate two emergency shelters, one for adults who identify as women/non-binary/gender queer and another for families with dependent children. During the COVID pandemic, we have worked closely with the County and fellow shelter operators to ensure safety across the region’s shelter system, which is especially important given the medical vulnerability of many shelter residents. To do that, we have opened new spaces to enable the social distancing needed to halt community spread.
Starting this month, Human Solutions will be temporarily operating a third shelter, this one also for adults identifying as women. We’re in a motel near Mall 205 in East Portland called The Chestnut Tree Inn, and we welcome your engagement as we meet residents’ needs. Our top need is always meals, but from time to time other donated items come in handy, too, like art & craft supplies, hygiene items and new/gently used bedding and towels.
If you’re inspired to help out (and we hope you are!), please contact Shawna, our volunteer and donations coordinator, at 503.278.1637 or email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATE: How to Be an Anti-Racist with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
We are honored to host a special event with national thought leader and writer Dr. Ibram Kendi, who wrote the now bestselling book, “How to Be an Anti-Racist.” He is the founding director of Boston University’s Center for Anti-Racist Research and more than anyone has defined and promoted our need to become “anti racist,” which requires much more from us than simply being “not racist.” At Human Solutions, we have committed to Dr. Kendi’s goal of becoming a consistently anti-racist organization and are taking active steps toward that goal.
While we had originally planned to host Dr. Kendi in person in Portland, we have pivoted to creating a COVID-safe event that we think you’ll love. Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty, a longtime police reform advocate and the Vice-President of our Board of Directors, will help host this event that is shaping up to be a pre-election day highlight of the fall season!
I sincerely hope you will join us on Thursday evening, October 1st for this important conversation. We will be sharing more details and an opportunity to RSVP in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we recommend that you grab a copy of the book from the library or order one from one of these Black-owned bookstores.
What We’re Reading: Anti-Racism & Fixing Our Inequitable Economy
You’re probably tracking your fair share of media these days to stay on top of COVID and better understand our nation’s racist history and the urgent need for racial justice. We sure are! A few readings and other sources have really captured our attention, so we wanted to share:
- Ibram X. Kendi’s “How To Be An Anti-Racist” and his new teen book: “Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism & You” really hit home. Here’s a quick clip with Dr. Kendi and co-author Jason Reynolds on The Daily Show. SPECIAL NOTE: We are very pleased to be hosting an event with Dr. Kendi this fall (see above for details)
- NPR’s “A ‘Forgotten History’ of How the U.S. Government Segregated America” offers an excellent 35-minute listen. Something we noted: when we say “the government did it” it sounds as if people didn’t do it, but we’ve all collaborated with systemic racism in America.
- US News’ “Segregation’s Legacy.” Fifty years after the Fair Housing Act was signed, America is nearly as segregated as it was when President Lyndon Johnson signed the law.
- NY Times “America Needs Some Repairs: Here’s Where to Start,” is an excellent, thorough opinion piece laying out a roadmap to greater economic equality. We couldn’t agree more with the article’s tagline: “This nation began as a set of promises that it has yet to keep.”
Spring Appeal Helps Us Bounce Back
Thanks to all who helped make our Spring Fund Drive, which we launched in the wake of our postponed gala this Spring, a huge success. We are overwhelmed by the response from our community, which helped us secure a $25,000 match from a generous donor – and then some! As you might imagine, the need in our community is real: participants in our programs and residents in our affordable housing communities face a daunting array of obstacles, from higher-than-average COVID infection rates to job loss and the burden of our region’s ongoing housing emergency. We asked, and you responded. Words cannot express our gratitude for the caring, commitment and generosity of our supporters. Here are the highlights:
- 220 people pitched in with financial contrbutions!
- Some folks gave their stimulus checks. One said: “You can put my IRS stimulus to better use than I can.”
- The largest gift was $15,000
- The smallest gift was $10 (every dollar counts!)
- All together people’s individual contributions added up to something BIG: $68,395 in donations + $25,000 match = $93,395.
And don’t worry, if you missed out you can still join this collective effort by giving online or mailing your donation to: Human Solutions, 12350 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97236. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!
Juneteenth: Re-Learning American History
On June 19th, for the first time in our organization’s 31-year history, Human Solutions observed the Juneteenth holiday, which commemorates the day when President Abraham Lincoln’s troops liberated enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, two and a half years after they had been legally free.
We know that commemorating an important moment on our nation’s path from slavery is not the full answer to our long history of racial injustice, but it is one of many ways we can call attention to and make space for reflection and action about this very relevant history and the related injustices in our present.
Human Solutions’ commitment to and work toward racial justice is central to our work and spelled out in our Strategic & Equity Plan. You can read the email I sent to our entire staff announcing this new holiday and other actions we are taking to support our Black staff and continue moving our organization toward the anti-racist, truly inclusive workplace we strive to become.
HOW TO HELP: Volunteers Move Mountains for Our Community
You all have really been coming through with meals and donations for our shelter residents and other program participants in 2020 (including hundreds of beautiful hand-sewn masks!). Thank you for diving into community in this way – we appreciate you. This month, our top needs are:
- Drivers to pick up and deliver donations, often food.
- Meals, lovingly prepared by you (hot dinners, sack lunches, breakfast muffins, and more)
- Hygiene items, especially travel sizes for shelter residents.
- Arts & craft supplies for women in shelter.
- Sewing machine and fabric to sew masks (and we are still accepting donated masks, too!).
- Kids activities and toys for families in shelter.
You can gather items from friends and family, shop online and have it sent to us, or shop in local stores and deliver it. Up to you! We maintain several Wish Lists on Amazon that you can just click and ship from the safety of home. Learn more and/or sign up by contacting Shawna, our awesome volunteer and donations coordinator, at 503.278.1637 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for all you do!
As always, thanks for reading and being part of our thoughtful and growing community. We’re inspired to do this work and when we do it with you by our side, it’s really powerful.
Take good care and let’s build back better – together.
Andy Miller, Executive Director, and the whole team at Human Solutions
PS – Reminder that you can still contribute to our Spring Fund Drive (even though it’s Summer!).
A new partnership between two East Portland nonprofits, local restaurants and the City of Portland is using a strategic approach to feed people in shelters and support struggling businesses during the economic crisis created by the coronavirus. The City is providing program funding through Prosper Portland, The Rosewood Initiative is channeling funds to struggling local restaurants in East Portland that are strapped for business during COVID-19. Participating restaurants, Nelly’s Taqueria and Chai Thai, prepare hot, delicious meals delivered to two Human Solutions shelters. Program organizers hope to find additional resources in the community to expand this win-win effort.
Human Solutions and The Rosewood Initiative are community-based organizations working in East Multnomah County to address the root causes of poverty and build vibrant communities where everyone can thrive. The Rosewood Initiative is a place-based nonprofit that supports community-driven solutions for a healthier, more economically vibrant Rosewood neighborhood. Human Solutions is a 31-year-old community organization that develops affordable housing and operates shelters and a range of programming to ensure all community members have economic and housing security.
Leaders at The Rosewood Initiative and Human Solutions saw an opportunity to collaborate and meet multiple community needs in this unique moment where restaurants are struggling to survive due to the COVID shutdown and emergency shelters are stretched to meet their ongoing need for warm meals.
Human Solutions Executive Director Andy Miller is thrilled with the results – and the sense of community:
This is how community responds in a crisis – through innovative partnerships. Prosper Portland stepped in quickly to do what they do best – supporting local small business to keep them working, The Rosewood Initiative did their part by recruiting local minority-owned restaurants they already partner with and Human Solutions was able to relieve some of the stress on our courageous shelter teams and make sure our shelter guests had plenty of delicious food. There is nothing more powerful than our community working in partnership for the greater good.
How Does the Partnership Work?
With $24,000 in funding from Prosper Portland, whose mission is to build an equitable economy, The Rosewood Initiative has contracted with two small, family-owned restaurants in the Rosewood neighborhood of East Portland, Nelly’s Taqueria and Chai Thai. They, in turn, prepare dinner weekly for the residents of Human Solutions’ two emergency shelters, Lilac Meadows for families and the Gresham Women’s Shelter. On a typical night, about 220 people eat dinner in these shelters. With Governor Brown’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order for restaurants to offer only takeout, many restaurants have had to close and may not survive – hardest hit are often family owned restaurants in less prosperous areas like East Portland. Receiving $5.50 for 180 meals each week adds up for these small businesses! Right now, the effort costs $8,000/month for 1,450 meals; each restaurant earns $4,000 each month. Volunteer drivers transport the food from the restaurants to both shelters in time for dinner.
Two priorities were working with business owners or color, who often face greater barriers to capital, and focusing on East Portland, where restaurants depend on a clientele with less disposable income for dining out, especially right now.
Simple Enough. But How Is It Going?
Oscar of Nelly’s Taqueria is happy for the opportunity:
Nelly’s Taqueria is really grateful to have gotten the opportunity to work with Rosewood on such a great program to cater to the homeless community. Thanks to this we are able to keep our doors open and continue to grow and continue to serve food for people. Gracias.
The Rosewood Initiative says the two restaurants providing meals for two months is just a start; if they can bring in more funding for the project, they can include more eateries or extend over time.
Staff from Human Solutions’ emergency shelters say the program is a game changer. Tamara Holloway, who manages Human Solutions’ Lilac Meadows Family Shelter near SE 82nd & Powell Blvd., says:
Our shelter team is doing amazing frontline work right now during the COVID pandemic. When a hot, ready-to-serve dinner is delivered by a volunteer driver from a local restaurant, our staff and shelter residents feel cared for by our community. We couldn’t be more grateful for this delicious food and all the donations we have been getting from everyone in our incredible community. Thanks to each and every one of you. We are for sure stronger together.
Expanding the Partnership with Community Investment
Now the teams at Human Solutions and The Rosewood Initiative are looking to grow the program by inviting the community to invest so they can feed more vulnerable people and support more local businesses. They’ve started a GoFundMe campaign where people can contribute to this win-win community effort. Your money will go far:
- $250 provides dinner for 50 women experiencing homelessness
- $25 provides dinner for a family
- $10 provides two meals
Executive Director of The Rosewood Initiative, Jenny Glass, is pleased to still fulfill their mission to support the neighborhood when their community space doors are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic:
The Rosewood community in East Portland is strong and resilient, but there is no denying that the residents and businesses in this area were struggling even before COVID-19. This pandemic and the necessary economic shutdown deepens the hardships faced by communities of color, people with low-incomes and neighborhoods that have been under-resourced for decades. We’re honored to play a small part in supporting local businesses owned by people of color and houseless folks in our community during this challenging time.
Hello Friend of Human Solutions,
I sincerely hope that you and yours are staying healthy in these unusual and challenging times. The team at Human Solutions is working hard to keep our operations strong while continuing to meet the needs of our community, which are growing and evolving daily. As an essential provider of safety net services in East Portland and Multnomah County for 31 years, we understand how important our role is right now to help people access old and new resources to get back on their feet. Helping the most oppressed people in our community with housing and economic security has always been our reason for being.
In these most unusual times, our team is working around the clock to keep our housing and economic security programs and our emergency shelters up and running while also meeting public health directives to practice social distancing. We’re retooling, as we know you are.
In fact, every one of our programs is still running, some with modifications and others with full pivots to do the more pressing work of the moment. A few examples:
- Our after-school program cannot meet in person but is supporting parents with virtual learning resources and distributing food (which is especially important with schools closed).
- Our career coaches are providing unemployment assistance to support those who have lost jobs in recent weeks to understand and access benefits.
- Our emergency shelters – where 200+ women and families stay every night – are tracking residents’ health and relocating folks when needed, cleaning to new standards, and still working actively with participants to find permanent housing.
- We are tracking and interpreting the new renter protections and federal assistance programs to share with residents of our 17 affordable housing communities.
Working During COVID: Remote & On Site
While our administrative team and many of our service providers are able to work from home per Governor Brown’s request (see photo), our incredible shelter team remains on the front lines, providing a safe place for women and families experiencing homelessness in our two emergency shelters and now Multnomah County’s temporary shelter for women, too. We applaud their commitment and ask that if you are clanging pots and pans at 7 PM to thank front-line workers, you include those working with our homeless population, too.
Can Help Us Raise $25,000 to Earn a Match?
Right now we are asking our supporters – that’s you! – to help us reach the goal of raising $25,000 by May 2 to recover lost gala revenue.
It feels like at least a year ago that we decided to postpone our annual gala and auction fundraiser from May 2, 2020 to May 8, 2021, but in reality it was only several weeks (time is funny these days). We’re more than disappointed that we can’t spend the evening with you, but we’re even more concerned about the lost revenue that we were counting on to help fund our programming, which feels more essential by the day. Click here to contribute now.
The world may feel as if it has stopped, but Human Solutions hasn’t. Thank you in advance for investing in our community right now by making a donation to Human Solutions. Any amount helps!
Do You Have Stuff We Need?
Our shelters always depend on the caring and generosity of our community to offer the things residents need to feel at home. And now is no different! We are gladly accepting drop-off donations – here’s what’s topping our list this month:
- Hair products (any kind!)
- Hair combs
- Disposable razors
- Bath towels (new or gently used)
- Sewing kits (individual size/mending)
- Hand-sewn masks
If you are inspired to donate any of these items or deliver a meal, please contact Shawna, our awesome volunteer & donations coordinator: 503.278.1637 or email@example.com.
Government, Non-Profit & Small Businesses Working Creatively Together
We are so pleased with the creative partnership inspired by the need to feed our shelter residents and keep local restaurants in business. Our friends at The Rosewood Initiative, a wonderful community-focused partner in our area, sought funding from Prosper Portland to pay small, neighborhood restaurants to prepare and deliver food to our shelters, where about 150 people eat three times daily. This is such a win-win for our community, meeting multiple needs at once. One thing for sure: we’re all in this together.
In normal times, local restaurants are incredibly generous to Human Solutions, giving often to feed those with less. Starbucks, Addy’s Sandwiches, White Pepper, Hungry Heart PDX, De Leon’s and Joy Teriyaki are but a few. We appreciate you all!
VOTE YES in May: Homeless Services Ballot Measure Is Imperative!
We are all doing what we can to cope during this difficult time. And for the thousands of people living in the greater Portland metro region without a safe, stable home to shelter in, this pandemic has dealt a major blow.
The need for additional resources to address chronic homelessness in our region was urgent last year when we started this campaign; it is now imperative. But here’s the good news: we already know what services work, and we have a chance to bring those services to scale on May 19th by voting YES on Measure 26-210.
If passed, this measure will help struggling renters stay housed with services funded through a cash infusion of $250 million per year—raised through a 1% tax on businesses that gross $5 million or more in annual sales, and another 1% tax on individuals who earn more than $125,000 or couples earning more than $250,000.
This investment in supportive housing services has only become more crucial in light of the current economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has closed the doors of hundreds of small businesses. If passed, the ballot measure would not impact small struggling companies—rather it would tax larger businesses that continue to turn a profit, as well as individuals and households that continue to earn high incomes.
Measure 26-210 will ensure critical homeless services in our region have the funding needed to match the scale of the problem without placing a burden on low-and middle-income families. Add your name to HereTogether’s list of supporters today so we can focus our resources on others we still need to reach.
It’s not too late to register to vote!
Good News! You can register to vote in Oregon until April 28, 2020 to vote in the May election. Learn more and register here. At Human Solutions, we believe in making it as easy as possible for everyone to participate in elections so their voice is heard in this important democratic process. Pass it on!
A Just & Equitable 2020 Census —Have You Completed Yours Yet?
Every 10 years, the government counts our communities to determine how much money to give our state and local governments for services and resources. Being counted also correlates to political representation in Congress. It’s important that we’re all counted so we don’t get less than we need for Oregon. The “We Count Oregon” campaign is an excellent source of information in many languages to explain the importance of the Census effort. #WeCountOregon is a community-led effort working to ensure that every Oregonian- especially those considered hard-to-count complete the 2020 Census. Hard-to-count communities include people of color, children under five, renters, immigrants, people with limited English proficiency, multiple-family homes, Native tribal and urban communities, disabled people, and LGBTQ individuals. It’s critical that ALL Oregonians are counted, remain visible, and participate in our democracy.
Not completed the Census yet? No time like the present: https://2020census.gov/
Girl Scouts Share Cookies & Earnings with Human Solutions
For the second year in a row, the Cadettes of Girl Scout Troop 45210 donated all their Gift of Caring boxes to Human Solutions to share with residents in our emergency shelters. They’ll be donating a special dinner (with ice-cream and GS cookies for dessert, of course!) as one of their service projects in the coming months. Right now the girls have more than 50 boxes of cookies to bring in and donate, but that’s not all. Every box of Girl Scout cookies they sold this spring helped fund their special dinner. Thanks, girls!
Things can feel pretty dark right now, so it feels good ending on a hopeful note of community. We have seen such an outpouring of support during this crisis, from funds to grant flexibility to meals to busy sewing machines and beyond. While we remain sober about the challenges ahead for so many of us, we also feel the strength of our community coming together, showing us that there is a way forward and it is already brighter because we have each other.
Everyone at Human Solutions is grateful for our incredible community- thanks for being part of it,
Andy Miller, Executive Director
PS – If you are able, please consider a donation to bring us closer to our $25,000 goal.
Once upon a time, a long, long few weeks ago (or was it a decade?), we were putting the finishing touches on an exciting gala and auction for our strong community to come together and support Human Solutions by raising their paddles and purchasing auction packages, mostly donated by generous local business partners (restaurants, hotels, etc…). As you might imagine, none of this is possible now. We’re all staying home to stay healthy as best we can (while still operating our programs!), which means no fun nights out on the town with 350 friends (for now!).
We Had to Postpone Our Biggest Fundraiser of the Year
To adapt to this strange and ever-changing new landscape, we have rescheduled our gala for Spring 2021, when a return to normal social distancing and a functioning economy feels more certain. We hope you’ll join us then! In the meantime, we invite you to give now to help us raise the funds we would have raised at our postponed gala – funds we’re counting on to fuel our work this year. We need your help to meet a $25,000 matching donation from a local donor – just click here to give now – any amount helps!
Human Solutions Remains Open for Business
In “normal” times, Human Solutions’ team works passionately to help community members have the economic and housing justice we all deserve, with a focus on those who face the greatest barriers. In these most unusual times, our team is working around the clock to keep our emergency shelters up and running and to meet public health directives to practice social distancing. We’re retooling, as we know you are.
Can you help us stay strong to meet our community’s needs right now? Make a gift today – we’ll put it right to work where it is needed most.
Every one of our programs is still running, some with modifications and others with full pivots to do the more pressing work of the moment. A few examples:
- Our after-school program cannot meet in person but is supporting parents with virtual learning tools and distributing food (which is especially important withn schools out).
- Our career coaches are adding unemployment navigation to their toolbox to support those who have lost jobs in recent weeks to understand and access benefits.
- Our emergency shelters – where 200+ women and families stay every night – are tracking residents’ health and relocating folks when needed, cleaning to new standards, and still working actively with participants to find permanent housing.We are tracking and interpreting the new
- renter protections and federal assistance programs to share with residents of our 17 affordable housing communities.
The world may feel as if it has stopped, but Human Solutions hasn’t. We are standing strong for the community because the community needs us. Thank you in advance for investing in our community right now by making a donation to Human Solutions. Our initial goal is to raise $25,000 to earn a matching donation of the same amount from the generous Ed Cauduro Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.
Any amount you can contribute counts – truly. As we are seeing more and more every day, community well being rests with all of us. You can make a donation here.
THANK YOU for all you do – for Human Solutions, for your community, for our shared health and prosperity. The truth that we are interdependent couldn’t be clearer.
Andy Miller, Executive Director
PS – Your opportunity to invest in our community (and help us meet our $25,000 match) is right here. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!
Mid-winter greetings from Human Solutions! It is dark, wet and cold out there, so we are finding joy looking back to our annual holiday toy drive, which reached more families than ever this year (some fun stats and photos on that, below). BIG thanks to everyone who contributed to our year-end fundraising campaign this year – you really came through to invest in our work and your community. Thank you! Forgot to give? It’s never too late! We gratefully accept donations every day right here. With wealth inequality, extreme homelessness and a full-blown housing crisis on our hands, our community needs us more than ever right now – and we rely on your support to push back on all that is hurting our neighbors.
Below are some highlights from our work in East Portland/East Multnomah County, our home:
Visit the Emerald City @ Our Annual Auction & Gala
If you think it sounds fun to walk the yellow brick road, meet the Tin Man or journey to the Emerald City, you’re in luck! Our annual auction and gala is right around the corner on Saturday, May 2nd, and that is exactly what you will find there. Yes, we are inviting you to Oz. Just follow the yellow brick road to the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland for a very special evening. Tickets and tables are already on sale – and we welcome corporate sponsorships, too. This is going to be a night to remember – one that extends the reach of Human Solutions to even more of those who need our support.
All the event info you’ll need and tickets, too, are on this page. Don’t miss your chance to visit the Emerald City!
2020: People Still Write Thank You Notes!
I don’t know about you, but I grew up writing and mailing thank you notes on *paper* (I know SOME of you remember those!). While for most of us these days an email or even a quick text suffices, it is not uncommon here at Human Solutions to receive a hand-written note from a family who is now in a better place. I want to share a recent thank you note sent recently by a resident at our family shelter, Lilac Meadows. Click here to see this beautiful note. Kudos to our awesome team and to Tasha and her family; we prefer to give them all the credit, because overcoming the systemic, traumatic and sometimes personal barriers to get to that better place is incredibly hard work. Together we are powerful.
Meet Shawna, Our New Volunteer & Donations Coordinator
Volunteers and donations of needed items are a critical part of our operations, as you might imagine. We said good-bye recently to Christina, who managed our shelter volunteer and donation programming for several years (you may have partnered with her!). While she left big shoes to fill, we are thrilled to introduce you to Shawna Hoffman, who we know can fill them! Shawna says, “I look forward to meeting and working with each and every one of you to meet the needs of our shelter residents and connect you to meaningful community work.” If you want to learn more about volunteering with Human Solutions or donate something we need (see image to right), contact Shawna at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.278.1637. She’ll be glad to hear from you 🙂
We’re Always Learning, Join Us!
Human Solutions is a learning organization. As such, we take in a lot of books, articles, videos, and more that help us deeply understand our work, our society and economy, and our role in the community. Today I am pleased to share some recent highlights for the viewers, the listeners and the readers out there. Enjoy!
- Podcast: If you are interested in dismantling white supremacy and the patriarchy, as we are, listen to Seeing White and Men (they’re both series, so grab some tea and settle in).
- Video: Race and Redlining from NPR’s Codeswitch.
- Article: Who Killed the Knapp Family? By Nicholas Kristoff (powerful opinion piece with an equally powerful follow-up).
Our Annual Holiday Store Was a BIG Success
It’s a wrap – literally! We used 670 yards of wrapping paper to send 191 families home with about 2,000 gifts and 250 gift cards (worth $5,350!) for 620 kids. Not to mention the 30 dozen cookies our friends baked and shared. It was so much fun!
None of this would be possible without the support of our community – gift buyers, volunteers (114 this year), lunch donors, event sponsors, committee planners and more! Our Holiday Store is a labor of love that brings joy to all involved – givers and receivers alike.
We’ll be doing it again in 2020, so please stay tuned later this year when we put out the call for event sponsors, toy donors, committee planners, and more. It’s a pretty great way to celebrate the season of sharing.
Multnomah County 2019 Poverty Report
In early December, Multnomah County released an important and useful update to its 2014 Poverty Report that we recommend to anyone interested in ending wealth inequality and homelessness. Two things that unfortunately didn’t surprise us here at Human Solutions: People of Color and residents of East County, where we focus our work, experience poverty disproportionately. We were angered by the familiarity of the data when it comes to poverty concentration and the disparate impacts of racist policies on People of Color, especially Black Americans. Some key takeaways to inspire your engagement:
- Since 1990, the county’s population in poverty grew at almost twice the rate of the county’s population as a whole.
- The highest poverty areas in the county are east of I-205, where up to 22% of residents are impoverished.
- The median hourly wages in 8 of the 10 most common jobs in the County are unable to support a family with young children.
- Poverty rates for African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinxs are more than twice the rate of white residents.
- Public safety net programs have eroded to the point that most fail to lift people above the poverty line.
Our work is squarely aimed at countering the forces that produce these very disturbing trends. Join us and learn more about how we are pushing back at www.humansolutions.org.
We’re Hiring! Join Our Team.
An organization our size is often hiring. Check out our current openings and share them with those who could be a good fit (maybe it’s you!).
Thank you, as always, for being part of our community. There is such great injustice out there – we appreciate you being part of our work to overcome it.
Andy Miller, Executive Director
PS – Inspired by what we’re doing? Please consider a donation to keep us going strong – we’re open 24/7 right here: https://www.humansolutions.org/giving (thank you!)
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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.
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!
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
- 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!
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!
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.
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 24, September 23, December 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 email@example.com. Thank you!
FREE SUMMER FUN & MEALS
- 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!