Helping the Houseless in Portland
- By Tim Pitts
- December 16, 2019
Housing is an issue that is close to our hearts. As housing costs have skyrocketed, leading to an unprecedented number of houseless people, we feel an urgent need to support a number of local organizations that work to support our neighbors experiencing houselessness.
You have likely seen local people selling newspapers at your favorite grocery store or library. If you've ever wondered who they are or what they're doing, they are selling Street Roots! Street Roots is a local 501(c)3 nonprofit that publishes an alternative weekly newspaper that is sold by people experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty. Every week about 170 Street Roots vendors purchase copies of the newspaper from the Street Roots office in Old Town for 25 cents each, they then sell them for $1. They keep the profit from each sale of the newspaper as a means of earning an income with dignity. More than 700 vendors sell the newspaper during the course of a year.
The Street Roots newspaper is filled with quality local journalism focused on social justice issues. Each issue also features poetry written during weekly creative writing workshops offered to vendors. Street Roots is a member of the International Network of Street Papers, which includes more than 110 similar, independent publications in 30 countries worldwide.
Street Roots' also engages in advocacy related to homelessness and housing issues, both locally and nationally. Most recently, Street Roots worked with the Welcome Home Coalition to refer the first affordable housing measure to the ballot, which created $258 million in funding for affordable housing in Portland upon its passage.
We are strong supporters of the work Street Roots is doing, both on a personal level for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and at the institutional level where much progress can still be made. So, the next time you see a vendor, consider stopping to say Hi and purchasing a paper!
Portland Homeless Family Solutions believes that housing is a human right and works to empower homeless families with children to get back into housing quickly and to stay there long-term. Their Housing First Program helps families move quickly back into permanent housing (usually within a couple of months, and most families move into market rate apartments). PHFS helps families pay security deposits and up to 12 months of rent assistance to help families settle into their new homes. PHFS also helps families keep their housing long-term by providing support to families for 12 months after they move, including creating action plans to balance their budget, connecting them to their new community, increasing their income by getting jobs and education, and learning new skills they can use to keep their housing.
In the last two years PHFS has purchased and renovated their new Family Village Campus in SE Portland. This will be a place where families can go to access a variety of services – shelter, rapid re-housing, homeless prevention, life skills classes, mental health care, a meal, or a pack of diapers. As Oregon's first-ever trauma-informed family shelter, the Family Village Campus and PHFS are redefining what it means to provide services to families experiencing homelessness in our community. Thanks to the generosity of fellow Portlanders, PHFS will welcome 25 families (nearly 100 kids and parents) into the Family Village Campus when it opens this week! This will be a space that builds dignity, restores power, and promotes autonomy for families.