Introducing “The Nick Fish:” A New Housing Community Honors Beloved Civic Leader

“The reality is, to be successful on the housing front, locally and at the state level, we need a big coalition. Part of this is about the confidence and maturity of a movement, and its willingness to build a big tent.”

— Nick Fish, Portland City Commissioner, on resource development for housing and homeless services, March 4, 2011

September 22, 2020 (Portland, OR) – Nine months after the untimely death of Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, a cutting-edge new development in the Gateway neighborhood, will be named in his honor.

The Nick Fish, now under construction at NE 106th and Halsey Street in East Portland’s Gateway neighborhood, is shaping up to be a landmark project adjacent to a gorgeous new city park, with housing priced to help families remain in the neighborhood and retail spaces for small, local and minority-owned businesses. Human Solutions is co-developing the project with Edlen & Co and Holst Architects.

Holst Architects designed the complex, which will bring a striking new skyline and modern vitality to the Gateway Regional Town Center, which has long awaited major investment.  By ensuring housing affordable to a a range of incomes, The Nick Fish will help prevent the kind of residential displacement that too often accompanies neighborhood investment.

About the Project

The Nick Fish will offer 75 affordable and market-rate apartments, many with exceptional views of Gateway Discovery Park, considered only the second “barrier free” greenspace in Portland with a plaza, accessible playground, “skate dot” for skateboarders, outdoor seating and more. Residents will also enjoy a resident lounge that opens onto the park’s plaza, convenient access to neighborhood and parkside amenities, and accessible public transit.

The beloved commissioner’s name graces the housing portion of the development – but there’s more. Prosper Portland will own and operate 11,000 square feet of retail space tucked into a two-story wing of the building dedicated to small, minority-owned local businesses, including storefronts along NE Halsey Street and the park and Human Solutions will occupy the second floor of the development with an office and service center. Prosper Portland owns the land and played a significant role in financing and supporting the project.

Primary funding is through Prosper Portland, the Portland Housing Bureau, the City of Portland, Chase Bank, PNC, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Dudley Ventures, Valley National Bank, METRO, private grants from Meyer Memorial Trust and The Collins Foundation, and Oregon Housing and Community Services.

The project is slated to open to the community in Spring 2021 and will be the first Portland building to commemorate Fish, an affordable housing visionary who served as a City Commissioner for 11 years before his untimely death in January 2020.

The Nick Fish is only one of several upcoming affordable housing communities in the works at Human Solutions: one 75 -unit rehab, one purchase with 68 units, and another new development with 93 deeply affordable apartments -- all in East County, where Human Solutions has focused our work for 32 years. The organization recently received nearly $8 million federal and state grants from Oregon Housing and Community Services to move these community investments forward. Human Solutions’ Executive Director Andy Miller had the idea to honor his friend Nick Fish in this way because the project represents so well what the former Commissioner steadfastly stood for. As Miller describes it:

“Nick dedicated his career to community service, with a vision of healthy, green neighborhoods where every Portlander was welcome and could thrive. Nick was thrilled to support this new housing that will provide high-quality rental homes to Portlanders across a range of incomes with a gorgeous new park in their backyard. The Nick Fish helps make real our vision – and Nick’s - to co-create vibrant, healthy neighborhoods where all people can share in the security, hopes and advantages of a thriving, supportive community in East Portland. I’ve long been inspired by Nick’s work and couldn’t think of a better way to honor his impact on our city. We toured the site recently with Nick’s family and were thrilled to receive their blessing to commemorate Nick’s legacy in this way.”

When finished, The Nick Fish will add to Human Solutions’ portfolio of 16 affordable housing communities, bringing the number of affordable rental units the organization manages in East Portland/East Multnomah County to 736.

About Nick Fish

An attorney by trade, Fish was a native New Yorker who pulled up his roots in the mid-1990s to head for Oregon, where his wife, Patricia Schechter, had accepted a post teaching history at Portland State University. Fish, of course, immediately engaged in the local community.

Politics had long been in his family, so it was no surprise when he ran for office – winning in 2008 after several attempts He was a popular commissioner and Portlanders understood him to be both effective and deeply devoted to his work and our City.

Fish was best known for his work merging the city’s various housing services and programs into one bureau, combining the City’s smaller Bureau of Housing and Community Development and the housing side of the (then) Portland Development Commission to create the Portland Housing Bureau, which he oversaw from 2010-2013. He also made lasting contributions as the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation (2010-2013 and 2018-2019), where he created and expanded programs serving children and families, with an eye toward East Portland which was historically underserved.

Fish’s deep focus on ending homelessness and increasing Portlanders’ access to affordable housing and greenspaces is what makes the new building uniquely suited to commemorate this beloved city leader.

Fish’s family toured the site this summer and is taking the opportunity to work more closely with Human Solutions. Patricia Schechter, Fish’s widow, and their children Chapin and Maria, are all in:

The work of building trust and true collaboration is painstaking. Any society can put up a building…But in a democracy, we face each other as equal citizens and deliberate in order to create a common ground that can blunt and even shift imbalances of power,” Schechter says.

Vertical Garden Bears More than Fruit

Jessica Holmes and Tenisha Bolds

Bolds and Holmes created a vertical garden for LearnLinks students and their families

Tenisha Bolds works with kids in the LearnLinks after school tutoring program, at an apartment community owned and operated by Human Solutions in East Portland. One of the things she’s been thinking about is: How to indulge her young students’ love for fresh fruits and vegetables?

It’s a problem many parents would love to have, but for Bolds - a Health and Wellness Specialist - the challenge took a creative turn: Now she and her colleague, Resource Specialist Jessica Holmes, are growing a vertical garden packed with vegetables and herbs, and bringing the produce to the families they work with.

And they’re thinking about how to launch a cooking show on YouTube to help their participants’ families create their own delicious, fresh meals from scratch.

About 138 kids show up – now virtually – at LearnLinks every week to get help with their schoolwork. The idea behind the program is to provide family support for public school students in Human Solutions’ affordable housing communities to thrive in the classroom.

Good nutrition is covered within a unit in the science curriculum. Bolds says when she asked the kids in her k-8th grade program at Lincoln Woods apartments what vegetables they liked, the answer was: kale. And that answer became an inspiration for more science lessons.

“Then we started talking about growing some vegetables and bringing them in,” Holmes says. At first they tried regular gardening at the apartment complex, but space was limited. “So we decided to start vertical growing.”

The technique is ancient -- think Hanging Gardens of Babylon. But in modern times, new growing structures are easy to find online and fun to build; Holmes and Jones started their seeds in hanging structures and then planted the emerging sprouts in an array of planter boxes in Bolds’ backyard.

The “babies,” as Bolds calls the plants, have included a farm’s-worth of crops.

“We’ve got carrots, onions, eggplant, corn and cucumbers. Then we have peppermint, chamomile, chives, oregano, let me see what else? We also have parsley, we have lavender and we have basil. Then there’s also cabbage, kale, rosemary, hot peppers, brussels sprouts, cilantro, bok choy, thyme, and sweet peppers so far. Oh and honeydew, because the kids love honeydew.”

Bolds’ parents also have green thumbs: her father tends a vegetable garden on his patio and her mother raises houseplants. Years ago, her mother shared a secret tip on how to keep the greenery growing:

“My mom says you have to talk to the plants or they won’t come up, so I’m out here all the time, just talking,” Bolds says. “And I play music for them - they like all kinds of music. And I swear it works - because the corn was the smallest and now they are an inch tall!”

Holmes says the idea was inspired by a cooking and nutrition training she and Bolds attended together.

“This program is important to me because when I participated in a health and nutrition class and learned about all of the additives they put in the food, it scared me,” Holmes said. “Also, I love the fact that we can eat food that we’ve grown ourselves.”

“We are all organic,” Bolds says. “We used no chemicals, because the class we got certified in taught us all about what the chemicals do, and it’s also changed our eating habits.”

Bolds says the most important part about the project is bringing healthy produce into families’ homes. While the LearnLinks program is for kids, in practice the teachers connect with their families, too, since families are an essential part of children’s learning.

“It’s natural, it’s coming from the garden, and it’s a shame that more people don’t know how to grow their own food,” Holmes says.

Next, Bolds and Holmes are working to create recipes for their program using food box ingredients mixed with the bounty from their garden. The food boxes are part of the USDA program distributed through the Sunshine Division and through a grant from Windermere.

“We can make the same things that our program participants can make, because they’re going to have the same ingredients,” Bolds says.

“But they don’t have access to a lot of fresh vegetables, so we made sure to grow enough vegetables so they have some, too.”

Bolds credits her Human Solutions Program Manager Tonya Parson for offering support - even successfully pursuing a grant from the Portland Children’s Levy - to help make it possible.

“Since I love gardening and the kids are always asking for fruits and vegetables, me and Tonya came up with the idea,” Bolds says. “Now she told me about vertical growing, and then I took it from there and I started growing in the vertical growers.”

And as the lush little plants are bursting with life in the fence in Bolds’ own yard, she and Holmes are moving ahead with big plans-inspired in part by the any nationalities of their students, whose families hail from Somalia, Kenya, Haiti, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico, Guatemala, Ukraine, and Russia.

To grow their nutrition curriculum further, Bolds says she and Holmes are working on expanding their video skills to launch their own cooking show on YouTube. As part of the LearnLinks Virtual Summer School over the past few months, they and their team members took a crash course in Google Classroom, weaving in YouTube videos where they could but also learning basic video for themselves.

The duo has moved from vegetables to science and video technology – and back to vegetables – in the space of one summer.

“So since me and Tonya originally started talking about it, my thing is that every month we would do foods of a different nationality - so like one month it would be Asian, maybe Turkish, Somalian,” Bolds says.

“So I’ve been looking at different recipes like cabbage wraps - that’s Italian. I’m going to try to make that so that I can teach people how to make them. But I found a whole lot of different recipes from different cultures that we can make, plus I love to cook.”

Holmes agrees.

“I just love cooking with fresh ingredients, and it’s actually pretty fun and exciting to see your progress,” Holmes says. “Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not an easy job - but it’s very rewarding.”

Aside from Holmes and Parson, Bolds’ biggest supporter is her daughter Tai’ Ana Williams, who has helped plant, weed and water the vertical garden.

Williams has her own take on the project:

“It’s about bonding,” she says. “Growing things, you have to bond with your plants, you have to talk to them and stuff. And then when you’re planting them and you’re bonding with them, it makes you feel special because you’re doing it. I feel like it would be better for everyone to plant their own things so that they could feel special and know that they’re doing it not only for themselves, but for others as well.”

At Human Solutions, we’re building a community where all people can share in the security, hopes and advantages of a thriving, supportive community. Projects like this garden are a wonderful example of how we all benefit when we do things that are part of something larger than ourselves.

From Shawna: August Volunteers are All About Action!

I hope this note finds you and yours healthy and well. These are challenging times for all of us, in different ways. In the midst of all the distress in our community, something that remains incredibly heartening is the way people keep showing up. In addition to working directly with those in need, we are also working to build a supportive community where we all play a role in ensuring everyone can thrive – and the housing and economic justice that underpins health, well-being and, yes, the pursuit of happiness.

All that said, I am writing to share some fun news and invite you to help out as we meet our community’s needs. One thing we have heard over and over from those volunteering and donating important items: it sustains them, too, providing meaning when we aren’t always sure how to be useful.

 

Partnerships Make It Possible

We are so grateful for our partnerships with the Sunshine Division, the Portland Police Bureau’s charity arm, and the Hood to Coast COVID response team. Together we have been providing free fresh food boxes – filled with produce, dairy and meat - to 150 families in our affordable housing communities every week. In July, our generous friends at Titan Freight – including Keith Wilson and his daughter Lily, pictured here with a lot of new friends they met while social distancing – picked up and delivered the boxes to several locations. It really does take a village.

This fresh food box program is one of several new partnerships that are helping us increase resources available to our program participants. Big thanks this month also go to Eastside Starbucks and Red Lobster, who are stepping up to share food with our networks. 76 BBQ, a SE Portland food cart, is cooking for us weekly now, and Portland Rescue Mission continues to be an incredible partner, feeding our shelter residents from their own job training program. We feel fortunate to have such generous and caring partners in this difficult moment.

 

Meet Brielle, Our Newest Team Member!

Welcome to Brielle Jones, our new Volunteer & In-Kind Donations Specialist! You may have met Brielle at our Powell Blvd. office reception desk, where she has been fielding calls for assistance and helping to manage our offices. We are thrilled that she is joining our team this month, working with me so we can expand our volunteer and in-kind donation opportunities and better meet the needs of our community. Welcome, Brielle! When you  contact Human Solutions, you’ll be working with one of us to find the right volunteer opportunity.

 

New COVID Shelter for Women-Identifying, Non-Binary & Gender Queer Folks

As you may be aware, our 90-bed women’s shelter is a group setting, so to meet social distancing requirements during COVID we have worked with Multnomah County to reduce the number of people staying there. To continue sheltering 90 people, we opened a new motel location for 60 people where they can have their own room and bath, a safer layout for those vulnerable to COVID. We are working closely with the new shelter team to find out what they need in the way of volunteer help. The new location is near Mall 205 in East Portland, in case that’s convenient for you. You can read about this new shelter and two others the County is opening in this press release.

 

Summertime = Sewing Time!

There are several active, local quilting/sewing communities supporting our work, bringing everything from scarves and COVID masks to beautiful home-made blankets all year round. This month we have a special shout-out to Gladstone Church of the Nazarene, who donated over 30 quilts - plus a pile of hats and scarves for our family shelter. It may not be cold right now, but it will be before we know it.

This cheerful team had already donated once, but realized they had more to give, so they circled back and added to their offerings!  HUGE thanks to all the crafters and sewing-machine artists for your work, your commitment and your heart! We’ve lost count of how many lovingly sewn COVID masks you have given for residents of our shelters and affordable housing communities.

 

Special Kudos

With big love and thanks, we bid a fond farewell to our rockstar volunteer Sara De La Torre Rust (pictured here with her husband Jacob), who worked with us for several months as she completed her studies at Portland State University. Sara made a name for herself when she repeatedly helped pick up food donations for our shelters -- at odd hours and at zero moments’ notice! Thanks, Sara! You will be missed.

(Could you fill these shoes? We always need folks who can pick up and deliver food and other donations – on call or regularly. It’s a low-contact way to volunteer during COVID. Call or text me @ 503.278.1637 and find out how you can help

Ready to Help? Great. Let’s Get Started…

I check in weekly – sometimes daily – with our emergency shelter managers and resident services team at our 17 affordable housing communities. That way, I can share with you what their top needs are now. Here’s what they’re telling me this month:

  • Bath towels
  • Bed linens (twin, queen)
  • COVID masks
  • Drivers to pick up and deliver donations – on-call or regularly.
  • Group dinners (for 40, 60, or 120 people)
  • Sack lunches
  • Toiletries (razors, travel-size soap, shampoo & conditioner, hand sanitizer)

If you’ve been looking for a way to make a difference and feel more connected to your community, this could be just the thing! Contact me to learn more, or sign up today: 503.278.1637 or volunteer@humansolutions.org.

 

Save the Date: A Virtual Conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

We hope you’ll join us on the evening of October 1st for a very timely virtual art performance and conversation about being anti-racist. We are thrilled to be hosting brilliant thought leader Dr. Ibram X. Kendi  (“How to Be An Anti-Racist,” among other books and articles) and Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty, longtime policy reform activist who also serves as our Board Vice-President. Details to come. For now, please mark your calendar for 6-7:30 PM on Thursday, October 1, 2020. It should a thought-provoking event for all of us.

Thank you, as always, for all the wonderful contributions you are making these days. It’s meeting needs and spreading joy around East Portland / East Multnomah County, one of the hardest hit areas in the state during this health and economic pandemic.

Yours in community,

Shawna Hoffman, Volunteer & In-Kind Donations Coordinator

PS – Short on time but still want to help? You can make a financial contribution right here 24/7. THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO!

Your July Update: Be Part of this Moment With Us!

Hi Folks,

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 volunteer@human​solutions.org.

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:

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 volunteer@humansolutions.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!).

Reflecting on the Fourth of July

Hi Everyone --

This isn’t just any July 4th holiday, is it?  This year, this traditional holiday is an opportunity to reflect on the very meaning of our nation – and its promise. At Human Solutions, we know that building a better future depends on understanding and acknowledging our past. We are both realistic about our traumatic past and optimistic that together we can build a better future where Black Lives Matter and all of us experience housing and economic security in a society defined by racial justice. For us, these are the bedrock foundations of a just society. We can accept nothing less.

America is struggling on this July 4th. We are grappling with a pandemic we did not adequately prepare for and a national reckoning of our four centuries of racial injustice in the wake of the unjust murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and so many more. COVID-19 has, not surprisingly, exposed our persistent inequities, as Black and brown Americans bear the brunt of the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus. As we acknowledge our shared pain, we at Human Solutions are also focusing on making the most of this moment to intentionally and equitably build the road ahead – for our community and our nation - so that we make our collective way to justice, quickly. When we arrive, what a celebration we will have!

As we help build the road to justice, we turn to those with lived experience to lead the way. Some Black leaders we are listening to in this most American of moments (links to their Twitter feeds):

  • Mia Birdsong, whom we hosted last fall in Portland to talk about building community and seeing people in poverty as strong, not weak.
  • JoAnn Hardesty, our own Board Vice President and Portland City Commissioner whose longtime work to reform the police is so relevant today.
  • Nicole Hannah Jones, whose work on “The 1619 Project” opened a nation’s eyes to the early and cruel beginnings we are still reeling from today.
  • Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, who will join Human Solutions for a virtual event in October to talk about what it means to be an anti-racist.

We hope to see you with us on this most important of journeys. Now more than ever we need each other.

Yours on the road to justice,

 

 

Andy Miller & the whole team at Human Solutions

PS – Want to jump into this work with us? Great, we’d love to have you. Connect with Shawna, our volunteer & in-kind donations coordinator: 503.278.1637 or volunteer@humansolutions.org. No time, but want to support us? Thanks! You can always contribute online, 24/7.

Our Work Must Be Driven By and Toward Racial Justice

I sincerely hope this message finds you and yours healthy and safe. It goes without saying that this is a trying time on many levels for our local and our global community. Human Solutions condemns the violent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor - and all who have come before, names we know and others we never will - and stands with their families and friends in their call for justice. Our hearts right now are with our Black staff, program participants and partners; we support them as they endure more painful reminders of the simple injustice that it is still not safe to be Black in America. At Human Solutions, we have pledged to advance the cause of racial justice every day and will continue to work to undo the knots racism and anti-blackness tie around our strangled community. In fact, our 2018-2023 Strategic & Equity Plan lays out that work and we invite you to review it here.

In East Multnomah County where Human Solutions has made our home for 32 years, we are doing everything we can to support our team and our neighbors through one of the most trying times in recent history. As you may know, the east side of the Portland metro area has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 - it also is one of the most diverse areas of our state and one that has suffered from years of disinvestment and institutional neglect. It comes as no surprise to us that People of Color and other oppressed communities living in our service area suffer disproportionately from the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

For Human Solutions, these facts only increase the importance of our work to counter the forces causing poverty and homelessness and reinforce the urgent need to build the healthy neighborhoods that our community has been demanding. We are determined to use this moment to shine an even brighter light on the racism built into our housing and economic systems so that we cannot simply recover from COVID-19 - but can in fact can #BuildBackBetter. We plan a reset, not a reopening, because what we had before the pandemic only set the stage for its grave impact on our community. Our vision has been and remains a region that works for everyone, where housing and economic justice become the air we breathe, where the toxic forces of White Supremacy and patriarchy that cause poverty, homelessness and oppression are vanquished. If it sounds like a big vision and a lot of work, that’s because it is.

THANK YOU for being part of the Human Solutions community; together we are capable of accomplishing this most important task.

- Andy

Voters Said: Yes, We are All Here Together!

Local voters made history this week by supporting ballot measure 26-210 to robustly fund services  for people experiencing homelessness in our region.

The Portland metro community voted yes because they want to #BuildBackBetter and emerge from the coronavirus pandemic as a stronger, healthier community that takes care of its most oppressed members. We know everyone is safer when they get the services they need. On election night, people embraced a vision of our future that reflects our values more fully and rejects lowering our expectations based on fear and selfishness. This was an unprecedented opportunity to do what literally no other region in the country has attempted: to put together a measure that would fund resources at a scale and for a duration that would help end our chronic homeless crisis.

Everyone at Human Solutions is thrilled that Portland area voters supported Measure 26-210. This measure will not only bring the significant resources needed to solve a significant problem, it addresses the inequity underlying our economy that leaves so many with so little while others have more than enough – because the system is rigged. It’s time to really roll up our sleeves and ensure that everyone in our community has an affordable place to call home – especially People of Color who have been harmed by housing racism since the beginning of our nation.

--Human Solutions Executive Director Andy Miller

Human Solutions was proud to play a role in this victory as an active participant in the HereTogether coalition, a passionate coalition of advocates, leading members of the business community, nonprofit organizations, and elected leaders, we engaged with area voters during this period of #StayHomeStaySafe. Voters showed we truly are all here together.

We didn’t come together to pass an initiative, we united to end our homeless crisis. Passing this measure  is not the end of our efforts. It is the beginning.