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.

Innovative Partnership Supports Local Business and People Experiencing Homelessness during Coronavirus Crisis

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.

April eNews: Stay Connected to Your Community

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
  • Deodorant
  • Bath towels (new or gently used)
  • Sewing kits (individual size/mending)
  • Hand-sewn masks
  • Meals!

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 volunteer@humansolutions.org.

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.

Jump into community – it needs you!

Hi Friends,

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.

Stay well,



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!

This is what community can look like.

I hope this message finds you well – physically and mentally – in this unprecedented moment. I am writing to share with you some impacts we are feeling from COVID-19 and how we are handling them. We have been working very closely with Multnomah County’s public health and homeless services teams and other local service providers to determine the best path forward to protect and meet the needs of our staff, program participants, housing and shelter residents and our community at large.

At Human Solutions we often say “this is what community looks like” when we see our community come together to support each other. It is that same empathy, strength and sense of one-ness that we are drawing on as we face this global pandemic together.

Update on Our Services

Many in the community depend on Human Solutions to meet their needs, including emergency shelter, housing, rent assistance, after-school learning, and much more. We are working around the clock to keep our essential services available (and identify those we can put on hold), while also adjusting our programming and administration to meet local and state public health requirements to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Top on our minds is how to balance the urgent needs of our neighbors with very low incomes and insecure or no housing with the also urgent need to practice social distancing. As you know, this is a rapidly evolving situation, so our response is likely to evolve, too, over the coming weeks and months.

If you need to reach our staff, please know that any whose jobs allow it will be working remotely, so business may not be “as usual” but it is continuing. Our leadership team is mostly working remotely and participating in virtual meetings.

Our Emergency Shelters

Both our shelters for people experiencing homelessness remain open at this time, though we have stopped taking in new residents for the moment to create space for social distancing among beds and in daily living. Our women’s shelter is a congregate setting, where people share close sleeping quarters, while our family shelter is a former motel, so families have private rooms, requiring less adjustment in this moment. Our goal is the same as yours, I bet: to support our community when it needs us most. And sometimes supporting each other looks like staying six feet apart!

How You Can Help Now

  • Donate funds. Our biggest fundraiser of the year, our annual auction and gala, was planned for May 2, so we have postponed it (stay tuned for a new date soon). To make up for that critical funding loss, we are asking our community to step in now as they are able and make a gift – maybe the one you would have made had you been able to attend. Just click here to help us reach the $25,000 goal that will earn us an equal match. Contact Sherri with ideas to help: sphillips@humansolutions.org or 503.548.0224. We are turning lemons into lemonade.
  • Donate key items. We rely on community donations to ensure shelter residents have what they need to feel at home while staying with us, including food. Delivering hot dinners or sack lunches right now is most welcome. You can also shop this Amazon Wishlist while maintaining social distance; whatever you order will, be delivered to our 24/7 shelter.
  • Got Other Ideas? Great, we’re all ears. This is very much a team effort!
  • Get in touch to help! Contact Shawna, our terrific volunteer & donations coordinator, to get the details and dive in (maybe you are home from work with some unexpected time on your hands?): 503.278.1637 or volunteer@humansolutions.org.

However you can support our work and our community as a whole at this time, we are grateful. Thank you, thank you for being part of the Human Solutions extended family: together, WE are what community looks like.

In solidarity,



Andy Miller, Executive Director, and the whole team at Human Solutions

Gala 2021: See you in Oz! (Postponed from 2020)

PLEASE NOTE: Due to COVID-19, we have rescheduled our May 2, 2020 gala to May 8, 2021. We hope to see you then & there! In the meantime, please consider a gift today to help us recover the lost revenue from postponing our biggest fundraiser of the year.

At Human Solutions, we believe that every family deserves a safe place to call home. And we bet you do, too. Human Solutions has been working hard in East Portland and East Multnomah County to make that belief a reality since 1988.

We could not have accomplished all that we have in the community without incredible partners – like you! Let’s celebrate our hard work and successes together – and raise the funds we need to keep doing this important work in the community we love!

Please save the date in your calendar and grab a ticket now – before they sell out!

  • Who: You! And everyone who wants a community where housing is affordable to all.
  • What: A fun and inspiring evening to celebrate our work together in the community we love.
  • When: Saturday, May 8, 2021 @ The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland | 6 – 9 PM
  • RSVP: Tickets available in early 2021. Check back with us!
  • Sponsor It! Find the right level for you here
  • Questions? Contact our gala guru Sherri @ 503.548.0224 or email her here

We have a great evening planned for you – with good food, a terrifically fun theme, and a host of terrific items up for auction donated by our amazing business partners.

We look forward to celebrating with you in 2021 – and hope you’ll mark your calendars today!




Andy Miller, Executive Director

The Latest @ Human Solutions, February 2020

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: volunteer@humansolutions.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!)

Paying it forward, 25 years later…

This fall I was able to pay it forward to Human Solutions – after 25 years! Back then, I was in no position to write $500 checks to support their work with others in need, but I knew I wanted to and now I am. Here’s my story:

As a young mother with two young children, I became homeless after separating from my partner. I had a part-time job, but not enough money to make it all work. Thankfully, that’s when I learned about Human Solutions.

A little help at the right time made all the difference.

When I reached out, Human Solutions’ assistance was just what I needed to get back on my feet. Their kind and understanding staff helped me move into transitional housing and pay for childcare, which was essential to being able to earn enough money to support the three of us. After three months in transitional housing, I found a more permanent place that met our needs. With Human Solutions providing rent and childcare assistance for another three critical months, I was able to maintain stability and start earning what I needed to support my little family.

Helping others when I could was always my goal.

During that time, I always thought that when I got back on my feet, I would give back to the organizations that helped me. I knew there were other mothers experiencing the fear of not knowing how to provide for their children. It was my goal to extend to them the same support that was extended to me. I kept telling myself “when I win the lottery I will make my gift.” I haven’t won the lottery (lol), but this year I made my second $500 gift to Human Solutions to support others facing the kind of challenges I did. I know they are out there, and I know that Human Solutions has the skills and experience to work successfully and kindly with those who find themselves, for various reasons, unable to make ends meet.

Can you join me in this important work? Together we can do so much!

I’m writing you now because I want you to know that the services Human Solutions offers can really lift someone up. They helped me during a rough patch, and now I get to cherish the good times. My daughters (in the photo) have grown into wonderful women who have now started their own families – and I get to spend this holiday season holding my grandson.

I invite you to join me in paying it forward by making a gift to Human Solutions as soon as possible – any amount helps.

It’s easy to give – just click here to make an online donation (or pop it in the mail to: 12350 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97236).

Any amount helps – trust me. The generosity of others made a difference in my life. I know that your gift will make a difference in another family’s life!



P.S. From someone who knows firsthand the impact your gift has, thank you for your compassion and generosity. It means the world. https://humansolutions.org/payitforward/

From Housed to Homeless – and Back!

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. To which I’d add: stories are how we make sense of the world. Here at Human Solutions, we have the honor of being a partner to many people’s stories as they seek our help along their way.

When I recently met Jesse and Tanya and their three wonderful children (ages 2, 6 & 14) at Lilac Meadows, our new emergency shelter for families in SE Portland, I was struck by both the speed and magnitude of their spiral into poverty and homelessness and by their hard work to put it all back together. You’ve probably seen this, too – how quickly folks are being pulled from calm to crisis by the forces causing homelessness at record rates in our community. And like us, I bet you want a solution so all families in our community have a place to call home and a real chance to thrive.

From Housed To Homeless In 6 Months

While each family we work with is unique, we see some trends: people are working hard to survive and overcome poverty and homelessness, facing systemic barriers at every turn – racism, misogyny, low wages, no way to save, and high childcare costs, among others. Jesse and Tanya’s experience going from a stable home and job to unhoused with nothing took a mere six months, precipitated by a layoff. Tragically, when Jesse lost his job the family lost their housing, too, because their landlord was also Jesse’s employer. Without income, they couldn’t afford their car payments, so those are gone, too, along with the money they had invested in them.

One thing about poverty in America is that once that starter event happens – an unexpected medical (or other) bill, a rent increase or a high-needs child – it’s like the dam is broken and a flood of additional blows push people further from stability. But we can rebuild the dams and push back on the floodwaters.

With your continued help, families like Tanya and Jesse’s can have what everyone in our community deserves: a place to call home that they love and can afford.

An Important Partner

While Jesse, Tanya and the kids are living at Lilac Meadows, our on-site shelter team supports them by meeting them where they are and working forward from there. All 39 resident families at Lilac Meadows have a warm and dry place to sleep and store their belongings, three meals a day, one-on-one rehousing support, and, importantly, empathy and encouragement. With their immediate needs met, families can focus on their futures. Speaking of which, Jesse is already back at work in a new job!

Something Jesse and Tanya really love at Human Solutions is the orga- nized field trips we make available for the kids – OMSI, the pumpkin patch, the Children’s Museum and more!

As Jesse told me, their littles wake up and ask to go right to the shelter office so they can hang out with staff, whom they adore. As we like to say at Human Solutions: this is what community looks like.

Can you help families like Jesse and Tanya’s have the housing and economic security they are working so hard for? Your gift will make a world of difference for Jesse, Tanya, and the kids – and for Human Solutions’ work to ensure that everyone in our community has a safe and stable place to call home.

Solutions Now And For The Future

Our staff does a great job working with families like Jesse and Tanya’s to overcome the challenges our economic and housing systems throw in their way. But too many of our neighbors are facing the same barriers. At Human Solutions, we believe that these systems must work better, so fewer families endure the trauma and lasting impacts of poverty and homelessness – and more have a real opportunity to thrive. To that end, we’re not just helping people find housing today – we’re also working for a more just society tomorrow.

Together We Are The Solution

For the sake of Jesse and Tanya and the many unhoused families across our area who need help right now (there are hundreds on waitlists for shelter), I invite you to be part of the solution by making a generous gift this season. Together we can help our community today and work to address the root causes of poverty and homelessness to prevent more crises tomorrow. We know there’s a better way, and we’re working every day to get there.

With gratitude,



Andy Miller, Executive Director

PS – BE PART OF THE SOLUTION! Thank you for renewing your support – it does a world of good. And our community needs us right now!

Give here today: humansolutions.org/back2home

Our kids adore the staff here at Lilac Meadows. They were comfortable from the 1st day we arrived. When our kids are happy, we’re more able to focus on the future.

-Jesse B, shelter resident and father of 3