It may not technically be summer yet, but it sure is starting to feel like it! We are busy preparing to open our new emergency shelter for families, Lilac Meadows, in the coming weeks. We can always use extra hands preparing and serving meals (contact Christina to learn more). While shelter is not the solution to homelessness, it is an important part of the puzzle. We pride ourselves on working to support shelter residents with their journey back to housing and economic security.
In other news that we think might interest you:
This spring, our LearnLinks after-school program team took a group of students on a field trip to our state capitol in Salem. The kids learned about their state government, toured the Capitol building and met some legislators. Seeing how and where laws are made – and who makes them – is so important for our future voters and leaders. We need far more voices at the table, and this is one way to open the doors to civic engagement. LearnLinks offers homework help, school-family connection support, outings like this one, summer lunches and more!
Newsflash: Homelessness is Bad for Your Health (and now there’s proof)
We've always thought that homelessness is a risk to human health - recent research has now confirmed it. Researchers have been studying the health impacts of homelessness, and the results are clear: people experiencing homelessness have diseases and symptoms that typically afflict people decades older. As cited in the linked article, “although the participants’ average age is 57, they experience strokes, falls, visual impairment and urinary incontinence at rates typical of US residents in their late 70s and 80s.” The research could be an important tool to reframe how funders, providers and governments define and solve the problem. By treating homelessness as a public health issue and a housing/economic stability issue, we believe it will lead to greater urgency and new resources to find real solutions.
You can listen to a great interview with one of the researchers, a Bay Area doctor, here. As he says, "Nothing I have in my black bag improves the health of a homeless person ... other than housing.”
Your (Anti-Racism) Summer Reading List
What’s on your summer reading list? May we suggest at least one book from an inspiring and important list? One of Human Solutions' four Strategic & Equity Plan goals is to be an anti-racist organization. The correlation between racism and housing equity is longstanding and problematic; we cannot have housing equity without addressing racism and how it has and still does impact housing policy and opportunities.
One important path toward becoming anti-racist is to understand systemic racism, our country’s unique brand of it, and to know what being anti-racist means. Not everyone can access in-person trainings on this (though there are local opportunities), but thanks to our terrific public library system, many more of us can get hold of a book. We think this anti-racist reading list from the New York Times is a good one. As its author writes, “Think of it as a stepladder to antiracism, each step addressing a different stage of the journey toward destroying racism’s insidious hold on all of us.”
Investing in Affordable Housing is More Than Building New Units
We are excited to share the news about a recent “rehab” project we completed in Fairview, where one of our 17 affordable housing communities is located. Residents of this 45-unit community now enjoy a fresh coat of exterior paint, mobility ramps, an outdoor children’s play area, new interiors and a new roof, to name just a few of the upgrades.
While building more housing is a necessary part of solving our housing and homelessness crises, we also must maintain the affordable housing we already have.
Read more about the project and our grand re-opening celebration in The Gresham Outlook.
Happy Holidays (Already!?!)
Okay so, it’s not quite winter holiday season yet! But for us, the planning for our Annual Toy Drive is very much underway. We invite you to be a part of our 15th year of this joyful tradition. All the details you’ll need to join in are on our web site – and this year we have sponsorship opportunities! Is your business interested in supporting a great community event? We know how to make event sponsorships a win-win.
Well that was a lot of news! I hope that you are enjoying the longer days and warmer weather of summer. We appreciate you keeping up with our work and being part of our community. So many are struggling in our region, but together we are making an enormous difference.
Andy Miller, Executive Director
PS – If you want to do something to address our homelessness crisis, make a gift to support Human Solutions today!