People in the Portland area ask us all the time, "how can I help solve our homeless crisis?" In response, we have an opportunity for you. But I first want to share a story with you about a wonderful woman named Pat. It's also a story about how homelessness can happen, and how with the right support people can find their way back home.
Pat met her husband 48 years ago at Jefferson High School in NE Portland, where she later worked as school secretary - one of three service jobs she held over a 37-year career! Together, they have three kids and now six grandchildren – with another on the way in Atlanta.
But in 2013 the wheels came off, as they can, one at a time. First a separation, which led to Pat losing her home of 50 years in NE Portland. Next, she moved in with her daughter. When that situation didn’t last, Pat moved into her car, where she lived for two years. Ultimately she was left with nothing but the clothes on her back. That was when Pat reached out for help. She found her way to Human Solutions’ Gresham Women’s Shelter, a safe and welcoming environment where our expert team worked with her to find a pathway back home.
Pat is scheduled to move into her own place as early as June, which is really exciting. Her journey back to housing and economic stability took a lot of hard work on her part and expert support on ours. Of course there’s another key ingredient to obtaining and maintaining a home: funds.
To help Pat - and many others - move forward, Human Solutions removes barriers to housing, like paying off past debts that can lead landlords to deny applications. We also cover the expensive move-in costs that make it so hard for those without savings to find housing – like application fees, security deposit, and even a few months’ rent (not cheap in the Portland area, as you know).
Will you help those experiencing homelessness in our community – like Pat - move into stable housing? The value of your support is truly priceless. It is someone having a place to cook their own meal, to store (and wash!) their clothes, to shower, to host grandkids, to return to after a day’s work. It is a place for kids to do homework, sleep on a bed, eat hot food, invite a friend over. On any given night, 130 households (about 210 people) stay in our two shelters. We aim to help each find a safe and stable place to call home.
What you can do today in this humanitarian crisis is help Human Solutions do what we do so well: work one-on-one with shelter residents to find a place to call home. Pat is among the strongest people we know. She has climbed mountains to get where she is today, on the verge of moving into her own place. Let’s be there for Pat and the many others like her. As she told us recently, “I’m a survivor. It was a rough journey, but I’m going to make it!”
You can help our community members have a home. Please know that you are making a real difference for people experiencing homelessness in our community.