March eNews from Human Solutions

As always, there is a lot to share with you from Human Solutions. As you know, our work feels urgent right now, with so many people impacted by the housing crisis. There is some great and useful info in this month’s eNews, but I invite you to first take a minute (or seven) and hear Becky Blanton’s personal story of falling into and climbing out of homelessness. It’s a powerful story and includes a very important ask of viewers: see people for all that they are, not just their current housing situation.


Short, Powerful TED Talk on Being Homeless

The Year I Was Homeless” is a powerful seven-minute story that we think is well worth your time. In her 2009 TEDGlobal talk, Becky Blanton shared her personal experience becoming homeless, being homeless and getting back on her feet. Eye-opening, real and hopeful, Becky’s talk invites everyone to see people differently – especially those around us living in poverty and experiencing homelessness.


YOU’RE INVITED! Dine Out for a Great Cause – at McMenamins!

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

When: 5 pm to midnight on Tuesday, April 9th

Where: Power Station Pub @ McMenamins' Edgefield


Andy Miller, Human Solutions (L) and Dwight Unti, Tokola Properties (R)

Thank you, Tokola Properties!

We are grateful to Dwight Unti, President of Gresham-based Tokola Properties, for a very generous contribution to Human Solutions to accomplish our shared goals in the community we both call home. Tokola Properties creates and manages multifamily housing, mixed-use developments and hotels in Oregon, Washington and Arizona. In Dwight’s words:

“Supporting Human Solutions’ great work in our community is a natural fit for Tokola Properties. Housing is what we do and housing stability is what our community needs right now. We are proud to be part of the solution.”


Volunteer with Human Solutions! Serve a Meal In Our Shelter.

At the top of our list for volunteers right now is to cook and serve a meal at our Gresham Women’s Shelter. It’s a wonderful way to lend a helping hand and connect with shelter residents who are always happy to eat what our volunteers bring. 90 women (and their pets!) stay in the shelter every night, and feeding them three meals a day is something we depend on the community to help with. If your interest is peaked, please get in touch with our awesome shelter volunteer and donations coordinator, Christina (by email or phone: 503.278.1637). She’ll fill you in on how it works – and get you signed right up if you’re ready!


New State Law to Protect Renters

Our state legislature convened in late January and within a matter of weeks has passed a new tenant protection law that will prevent extreme rent increases and limit no-cause evictions. These are two landlord actions that have long been hurting renters’ budgets and in some cases causing homelessness, as well as driving rents up across the state.  Human Solutions supported the new law (SB 608), but we do not think it is enough to solve the state's deep housing crisis. To do that, we’ll need more housing, more affordable housing and more tenant protections. Read more from our Executive Director, Andy Miller, on our web site.


Monthly Giving @ Human Solutions: Become a PATHBuilder Today!

We are excited to roll out our PATHBuilders program! This powerful monthly giving program is an excellent way for you to conveniently support the work Human Solutions is doing to help people in our community get back on their feet. If you, like us, believe that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, this new program is a great way to be part of the solution. Sign up today!

Thank YOU, as always, for reading – and especially for caring about those in our community experiencing the devastating impacts of poverty, homelessness and the broken policies that land them there.

Winter Weather Shelter Info for Multnomah County

When it gets cold enough, the Joint Office of Homeless Services (operated by the City of Portland and Multnomah County) declares a severe weather advisory and brings additional shelter capacity online to ensure that everyone who wants to be inside can be inside for the night.

We are sharing here information from the Joint Office:

When the Joint Office declares a severe weather advisory, 211 becomes available 24 hours and will coordinate transportation to available shelters for anyone in need. A cold weather advisory also triggers additional outreach capacity, giving outreach workers more flexibility to obtain and distribute life-saving gear.

Overall, the Joint Office funds 1,365 year-round shelter beds and an additional 255 seasonal beds that are all open every night from late fall through early spring — no matter the forecast outside. In addition to those more than 1,600 beds, the Joint Office and Transition Projects stand ready to open severe weather beds as forecasts dictate.

Ways You Can Help:

Please donate winter gear

Service providers and the Joint Office are continuing their call for community donations of life-saving winter gear. Donations had been lower than usual this season, thanks to what had been a long run of mild conditions. Many people have since stepped up with donations as conditions took a turn, but more is always needed. Night after night, outreach workers have been handing out gear to keep people warm and safe as soon as it's come in.

Items especially important to donate items including waterproof hats, gloves, blankets, tarps, sleeping bags and coats.

Please visit 211info.org/donations to see a specific list of winter gear and where it can be dropped off.

Human Solutions can accept donations at 12350 SE Powell Blvd., Monday to Friday 8 AM to 5 PM.

The following items are needed:

  • Thick socks
  • Waterproof/resistant gloves or mittens (preferably dark colors/black)
  • Waterproof/resistant winter coats (men’s and women’s sizes)
  • Sleeping bags and warm blankets
  • Waterproof/resistant hats (preferably dark colors/black)
  • Knit hats (preferably dark colors/black)
  • Tarps (preferably brown, dark colors)
  • Hand warmers
  • Rain ponchos

We appreciate everyone's willingness to help, however they can. But please keep in mind: Some items, like home-cooked food, present health challenges around illnesses, allergies and germs — even from the most well-meaning donors — and can’t be accepted. In addition, volunteers and others working at shelter sites won’t have the capacity to track, clean and return food containers, flatware and other items left at shelter sites.

How to help neighbors in distress

If you see someone outside unsheltered whose life appears to be in danger or is in an apparent medical crisis, call 911. Otherwise, if you see someone about whom you are concerned, such as not being dressed for the weather conditions, call police non-emergency (503) 823-3333 and request a welfare check for that person.

To help someone find shelter and arrange transportation to shelter, please call 211.

Multnomah County offers mental health crisis resources, at any hour, for anyone experiencing a crisis. Mental health clinicians can provide direct phone assistance to individuals experiencing a mental-health crisis including: escalated symptoms of agitation, anxiety, depression, psychosis, dangerous to self or others, substance use, etc. Call (503) 988-4888 or visit the Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Intervention website for more information.

When it's cold outside
If someone outside is unsheltered and you are concerned they could be in danger due to cold weather, call 9-1-1 and request a welfare check. To help someone locate shelter and for transportation to shelter, please call 2-1-1 or go online at 211info.org.

A lone tent on a snowy day in Portland
People seeking to get warm on winter days when warming shelters are not open are welcome in government buildings that are open to the public, including, for example, libraries and community centers. Library hours are listed on Multnomah County Library’s website. City community center information is listed here.

Severe Weather Warming Centers
A Home for Everyone a collaboration between Multnomah County and the City of Portland. The partners, supported by the Joint Office of Homeless Services, operate shelters year-round for people experiencing homeless and add hundreds of beds open all winter. Beyond those year-round and seasonal beds, partners open additional warming shelters when severe weather hits to keep hundreds of people safe, generally 10 to 20 times each year.

Joint Office staff monitor weather conditions and open emergency warming centers as needed. Warming shelters may open when:

  • Temperatures are forecast at 25 degrees or below
  • Forecasters predict an inch or more of snow
  • Overnight temperatures drop below 32 degrees, with an inch of driving rain.
  • Other conditions occur as needed, including severe wind chills or extreme temperature fluctuations

Transition Projects will open one or more shelters based on need and location. This year those sites are Bud Clark Commons, Imago Dei and the Sunrise Center. These are low-barrier shelters with access for bikes, carts and pets. Additional shelters would open if conditions worsen. 211info moves to 24-hour operations and shares information about shelter options and donation needs, and coordinates transportation to shelter during severe weather events.

Seasonal Shelters
In addition to the severe-weather beds that open only when certain weather thresholds are met, the Joint Office of Homeless Services also opens 250 to 300 beds of seasonal shelter beds every fall, winter and spring. These beds are open night after night, no matter the forecast, from November/December through April. To make this work possible, the Joint Office works closely with business and faith leaders who donate space, as well as experienced shelter operators, including Transition Projects, Portland Homeless Family Solutions and Do Good Multnomah.

Just like with year-round shelters, winter shelters are available only through reservations. Anyone interested in accessing shelter should contact 211.

In 2018-19, the following winter shelters are open:

Walnut Park Shelter, 5329 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.; 80 beds, operated by Transition Projects
Winter Family Shelter, 1150 NW 17th Ave; 75 beds, operated by Portland Homeless Family Solutions
North Portland Emergency Warming Center, 4775 N Lombard St.; 50 beds, operated by Portsmouth Union Church and Do Good Multnomah
Rose City Park United Methodist Winter Shelter, 5830 NE Alameda; 40 beds (30 for non-veterans), operated by Do Good Multnomah, alongside their year-round shelter at the church.
Additional beds are also available in the youth homeless shelter system.
Cold Weather Alerts
Even when severe weather thresholds aren't met — but when temperatures are forecast at 32 degrees or below — the Joint Office will issue a "cold weather alert."

No severe weather beds will open during a cold weather alert. But providers will conduct additional and focused outreach and have the ability to quickly obtain and distribute cold weather gear. And 2-1-1 Info will move into 24-operations, sharing information on resources and helping people connect to available shelter.

https://multco.us/winter-weather/warming-shelters-and-homelessness

Introducing: Path Builders! Our Monthly Giving Program

Issec and her son

Issec is thriving now – she has a job that she loves and a home she can afford where she can raise her 11-year-old son. But it wasn’t always this way.

Just a few years ago, Issec came to Human Solutions for help: she was experiencing emotional and economic instability and didn’t have a stable place to live. Issec worked hard with the incredible staff at Human Solutions, who helped her create a plan to get where she wanted to be, which included: getting her GED, finding a living-wage job she enjoys, and moving into a stable home with her son so he can continue attending his neighborhood school. And she accomplished it all. Wow, right?!

At Human Solutions, we help people build pathways out of poverty all the time. It’s what we do.

I’m excited to share with you that TODAY we are launching our new PATH BUILDERS monthly giving program, a convenient and powerful tool to invest in your community and live your values. We invite you to join up!

Will you be one of our first PATH BUILDERS?

Just click here - It’s easy to sign up with a credit card or your bank account.

Here are a few examples of how impactful your gift will be:

  • $5/month covers application fees for two people seeking housing
  • $10/month sends a recently trained Certified Nurse’s Assistant to work with a new uniform and start-up supplies
  • $25/month sends a woman to a 6-month trauma recovery & empowerment workshop series
  • $50/month purchases essential supplies for a family moving from homelessness into permanent housing
  • $100/month makes it possible for 10 kids to participate in band, sports or other special interests

Thank you for becoming a PATH BUILDER today! Signing up will give you the peace of mind that you are doing all that you can to prevent homelessness and end poverty in your community.

Questions? Prefer to sign up by phone? Matt can help - contact him at 503.548.0279 or mhushbeck@humansolutions.org.

Everyone at Human Solutions values our supporters because YOU are what fuels our work!

Senate Bill 608: New Renter Protections for Oregon

Senate Bill 608 passed the Oregon House of Representatives and is on its way to the Governor for signature. This bill will go into effect when signed by the Governor – which we expect to happen very soon. As you may have heard, this new law will fundamentally change Oregon Landlord Tenant Law by regulating when and how Oregon landlords can increase rents.   The new law also sets limitations on when landlords can use “no-cause” evictions and requires landlords to pay relocation payments to tenants in certain circumstances. I expect materials to be made available soon by tenant-rights organizations like Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) that provide detailed information on the new law for service providers, advocates and renters in multiple languages.   We will share that information as it becomes available. The highlights of the new law are as follows:

  • Provides protection from no cause evictions for tenants after the first year of occupancy.
  • Provides statewide protection from economic evictions by limiting rent increases to no more than seven percent plus the consumer price index percentage (typically 1-3%). It exempts regulated housing (like our affordable housing ) and new construction for the first fifteen years.
  • Requires landlords to pay limited relocation payments when the landlord ends a tenancy due to certain circumstances (to renovate, move in themselves, sale of unit, etc)

First – some celebration. A collection of advocacy agencies, including Human Solutions, has been working on this type of legislation for many years. This is landmark legislation that puts Oregon ahead of most states in its regulation of the private rental housing market. Many staff and board members from Human Solutions lobbied for these kinds of protections, wrote op-eds, canvassed for legislators who supported these protections and contributed to coalitions that helped get this bill passed. It is a huge victory for renters in this state and will help us advance our mission by increasing housing security!

There are a few cautions for us to be aware of. The bill does not go as far as many in the advocacy community would have liked and leaves some renters vulnerable.   Renters approaching the end of the first 12 months of occupancy should be aware that landlords can still use no-cause evictions. There are some who fear that landlords may attempt to end tenancies in the 12th month pre-emptively to retain their ability to use no-cause evictions. Many agree that the limitation on rent increases (typically around 9-10% given recent CPI data) is too high, and that some landlords will use this as a guide and raise rents the max allowed every year because they fear additional controls on rents may be coming in future years. Some have raised fears that landlords will increase rents or termination activity before the law goes into effect in the next week or two (it is awaiting the Governor’s signature). Given these and other cautions, there are a few things we should be doing right now as the law is about to take effect.

  • Training: Those of us working closely with the rental housing industry will need training on the new law. We will be watching for training events, materials and online information – please share whatever you find so we can raise our collective awareness of these new protections. My sense is Rent Well and other entities will be providing detailed training and material updates soon.
  • Monitoring: We should be watching for and documenting any potential behavior that appears to defy the spirit of the new law. If you hear of participants who receive eviction notices or rent increases that appear designed to skirt the purpose of the law or any escalation of rents or the use of no-cause notices before the law takes effect, please provide me with whatever detail you can so I can share with partners who will be monitoring statewide for that kind of behavior. While we may not be able to address the situation directly, our friends working closely with the legislature will want to hear about any abusive behavior and also hear whether some of these fears were indeed unfounded.

Thanks, and stay tuned for more information about this exciting change in our laws. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.

What’s Happening at Human Solutions?

Happy New Year! 2018 went out with a bang here at Human Solutions. In December we hosted Governor Kate Brown, County Chair Deborah Kafoury and State Housing Director Margaret Salazar at the Gresham Women’s Shelter, received an award for our work on the Housing Crisis from the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, held our 14th annual Holiday Store for low-income families to find gifts for their kids, and proudly earned a $100,000 investment from Amazon.

I’d love to share some highlights with you – about both our exciting year-end events and what’s ahead in 2019. Also, I want to extend a BIG thanks to everyone who contributed during our year-end giving campaign. We are grateful for each and every gift and proud to have earned your trust.


GOVERNOR BROWN & CHAIR KAFOURY VISIT

We were delighted to welcome Governor Kate Brown, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and State Housing Director Margaret Salazar to the Gresham Women’s Shelter on December 10th for a press conference about the Governor’s proposed housing budget and priorities (event overview here). Importantly, the Governor took time to connect one-on-one with shelter residents to hear their thoughts and experiences. One resident read a written statement to the Governor, another performed a dance, and a third handed her a copy of the most recent Street Roots paper. They seized the opportunity to share themselves and their stories with the Governor. These visits are important because they connect decision-makers with individuals whose lives are impacted by homelessness.

Pictured here with the Governor is Human Solutions’ shelter manager Marci Catagena; Gov. Brown is holding a welcome card made by shelter residents.

 


AMAZON-SIZE DONATION

We are deeply grateful to our partners at Amazon for their generous contribution of $100,000. The donation is part of Amazon’s annual holiday campaign to celebrate with communities near its fulfillment centers (in our case, Troutdale) by making over $1 million in donations to nonprofits supporting homeless families across the U.S. Mike Moore, General Manager of Amazon’s Troutdale fulfillment center, summed it up:

“This holiday season, Amazon is giving back to the communities where our employees live and work, and we’re thrilled to support Human Solutions as part of this initiative. Human Solutions has given so much to the community for the last 30 years through their dedication to helping families find pathways out of poverty, and we’re excited to be partners in this important work.”

Read more here about Amazon's gift and the holiday party they threw for low-income families.


NEW REPORT ON LOCAL HOMELESSNESS

The Oregon Community Foundation – a terrific organizati

on with whom we are proud to partner - commissioned a report to take a deep look at the causes of homelessness in the Portland Metro Area in an effort to identify effective solutions. The report, “Homelessness and Housing in Portland: Root Cause Analysis Illustrates both Complexity and Potential for Collaborative Solutions,” is an important read. There’s a great Executive Summary if you don’t have time for the full report but have been wanting to understand more about this moral crisis and what a solution might look like.


HOLIDAY STORE 2018: IT’S A WRAP!

Well that was fun! This year we held our 14th Annual Holiday Store at a wonderful new (generously donated!) location, St. Aiden’s Episcopal Church at NE 174th & Glisan. Huge thanks go to everyone who gathered or made or purchased gifts and to the 80 volunteers who staffed the store – and to the cookie bakers who created our abundant snack station. This community effort provided holiday gifts to over 500 children in 170 low- and very-low income families. What’s really special about this event is that parents can choose new, unwrapped gifts for their kids. We’ll be doing it again next year, so mark your calendar to be involved!

Pictured: Human Solutions’ Yolanda Medina and a couple she works with who shopped at the store this year.

 


THANKS FOR THE AWARD

 

We were honored to be recognized by the East Portland Chamber of Commerce as a winner of its "Excellence in Community Service Award" for our work responding to the local Housing Crisis. We greatly value our relationship with EPCC, an organization based in East Portland that cares as deeply about our service area as we do. Thank you for the recognition!

Pictured here, L to R: Multnomah Commissioner Lori Stegman, Katia Selezneva and Andy Miller of Human Solutions, and EPCC President Gary Russell.


HOUSING POLICY

The Oregon State Legislature opens its 2019 legislative session on January 22nd. Housing bills will be front and center and Human Solutions will be paying close attention. We are an active member of the Oregon Housing Alliance, a local coalition of affordable housing advocates, and we will be supporting their policy agenda, including attending their “Housing Opportunity Day” in March. Stay tuned for details as that day approaches – it’s a great way to learn how our state legislature works and advocate for answers to our statewide housing crisis. One bill we are particularly keen on would bring us a step closer to preventing harmful and unnecessarily steep rent increases; it is explained in this Willamette Week article.


WE’RE HIRING!

Why not get a new job for the New Year? Human Solutions has several job openings right now. Join our mission-driven team!

Thanks, as always, for taking a minute to stay current with Human Solutions and the important community issues we are working hard to solve. We appreciate you!

Excellence in Community Service Award

We were honored to be recognized by the East Portland Chamber of Commerce as a winner of its "Excellence in Community Service Award." We greatly value our relationship with EPCC, an organization that is based in and cares deeply about East Portland, as we do. Thank you for the recognition!

Pictured here: Lori Stegmann, Multnomah County Commissioner, District 4, Human Solutions Katia Selezneva and Andy Miller, and EPCC President Gary Russell.

Learn more about the award and the recipients at https://eastportlandchamberofcommerce.com/.

Thank You Amazon!

Amazon Troutdale Fulfillment Center General Manager Mike Moore Announces Gift to Andy Miller, Human Solutions Executive Director

Amazon Surprises Human Solutions with $100,000 Financial Contribution & Holiday Gifts for Families Served by Portland Nonprofit

On Monday morning, Amazon delivered holiday cheer with a donation of essential items, Prime Book Boxes and toys to show support for children and families at Human Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to helping thousands of Oregon families build pathways out of homelessness and poverty since 1988.

The morning was filled with holiday spirit as Amazonians from Portland’s local fulfillment center spent the day helping families decorate cookies, play games like toss the ring on the reindeer, take family keepsake portraits and listen to holiday stories.

The holiday fun and smiles didn’t stop there. To further support Human Solutions’ operations and mission to end homelessness in greater Portland, Amazon made a surprise $100,000 donation – the largest non-restricted corporate donation in the organization’s history.

“Human Solutions is deeply grateful for this generous investment from Amazon that will fuel our work fighting homelessness and housing instability,” said Andy Miller, Human Solutions Executive Director. “It is together with partners like Amazon that we will create a community where everyone has a safe place to call home.”

The donation is part of Amazon’s annual holiday campaign to celebrate with communities near its fulfillment centers by making over $1 million in donations to nonprofits supporting homeless families across the U.S.

“This holiday season, Amazon is giving back to the communities where our employees live and work, and we’re thrilled to support Human Solutions as part of this initiative,” said Mike Moore, General Manager of Amazon’s Troutdale fulfillment center. "Human Solutions has given so much to the community for the last 30 years through their dedication to helping families find pathways out of poverty, and we’re excited to be partners in this important work.”

Joining Amazon employees and families served by Human Solutions were Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, and State Representatives Carla Piluso, Jeff Reardon, and Alissa Keny-Guyer.

 

December eUpdate