Record housing placements, shelter access follow investments in homelessness work

Record housing placements, shelter access follow investments in homelessness work

For the second year in a row, partners in A Home for Everyone, a community-wide initiative to end homelessness in Multnomah County, have helped record numbers of neighbors back into housing, find a safer night of sleep or keep from becoming homeless at all.

Nearly 4,900 people obtained housing in fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30 -- hundreds more than the goals partners in A Home for Everyone set before the year began. That number is also 65 percent higher than the 2,967 people placed into housing the year before A Home for Everyone launched.

In addition, 6,139 people received prevention services for the first time last year, almost 2,000 more than the year before and more than 1,000 people beyond what was expected.

And 8,532 people accessed emergency shelter in fiscal year 2017, almost 2,000 more people than the record number helped the year before. Two years ago, that number was just 4,760.

20,000 pairs of glasses! Special hotline! How providers are helping vulnerable neighbors safely experience the eclipse

Work to help some of Multnomah County’s most vulnerable neighbors get ready for Monday’s eclipse started nearly two weeks ago, when the Multnomah County Library system first offered free pairs of sunglasses certified to keep ultraviolet rays from harming curious onlookers’ eyes.

Those glasses were all gone by Wednesday, Aug. 16., says Jeremy Graybill, the library’s marketing director. And there aren’t any more on the way.

In all, over 11 days, library workers handed out some 20,000 pairs to anyone who needed them and may not otherwise have been able to buy them on their own – providing important protection for people looking to make the most of this remarkable event. The work to give out glasses comes alongside educational exhibits and plans for community events focused on the eclipse.

"This is simply the library doing what the library does – providing learning opportunities and resources for the whole community," said Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries. "It just so happens that this is a once in a generation event, right in our backyard, so it's been a fun and rather unique chance to share in the experience."

But that’s hardly been the only work to ensure neighbors in our shelters and on our streets are able to safely experience Monday’s near-total eclipse in the Portland area.

Nonprofit service providers across the county are helping people obtain safe eclipse-watching glasses, sharing safety tips and warning clients to plan ahead for fallout from a surge in visitors to Oregon. Emergency management officials anticipate traffic will be dramatically affected, in addition to high demand that could lead to empty grocery shelves and long lines at gas stations.

For immediate help, our regional information clearinghouse helping people in need connect with the right services, 211info, has an eclipse hotline in place through Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Here’s a roundup of how some providers are stepping up:

211info

211info is working with Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Parks & Recreation, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Travel Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority, and other local and state agencies through Wednesday, Aug. 23 to provide information about where and how to view the eclipse, safety concerns, emergency preparedness, traffic, road closures, and more to people in Oregon.

Members of the public can call 211 and press 1 for “eclipse information,” text “eclipse” to 898211, or visit www.211info.org/eclipse. The hotline will run Aug. 16-23 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Bradley Angle House

Staffers have handouts at the ready and have shared glasses with all shelter participants and staff. They’ve also given advice on social media and directly with participants on how to prepare for heavy traffic, and gas and food shortages.

Cascade AIDS Project

Cascade AIDS Project is sharing safety information sent in an email this week from the Joint Office of Homeless Services, with as many clients as possible. The nonprofit is not providing glasses directly, but is directing clients to places where glasses are available.

Cascadia Behavioral Health

Cascadia is directing participants to 211 for information and is directing clients to places where glasses are available.

Central City Concern

Central City Concern is not directly giving out glasses, but it is helping clients obtain them as needed by sharing information on where to find safe, appropriate eyewear. Staff is also sharing links with information on how to safely experience the eclipse and warning clients about potential dangers.

Human Solutions

Staff at the Family Shelter in east Multnomah County and the Gresham Women’s Shelter are talking with residents about how to prepare for increased traffic and demand for food and gas, along with directing people to places where glasses are still available. Informational posters are up at both shelters.

Janus Youth

Yellow Brick Road volunteers and Janus staffers are providing information on how to safely travel to safely view the eclipse during their regular outreach rounds. They also have a limited supply of glasses to hand out to those who want them.

Neighborhood House

Neighborhood House has given glasses to all interested program participants. Staff has also distributed glasses through Neighborhood House’s food box program.

Northwest Pilot Project

Staffer at Northwest Pilot Project are sharing information one-on-one with clients and are prepared to pass out a “very limited” supply of glasses to clients.

Transition Projects

Transition Projects is preparing a safety poster for all of its facilities and shelter spaces explaining the dangers of looking directly at the sun as well as sharing resources on how to obtain glasses. Staff will share  announcements at each of Transition Projects’ facilities over the weekend and on Monday.

Providers taking extra steps, from air-conditioned day spaces to bottled water, to keep neighbors safe during heat wave

As temperatures hover near or above 100 degrees this week, raising the risk of dangerous health impacts, providers who work with people experiencing homelessness are taking extra steps to directly help neighbors in need.

Some are opening air-conditioned spaces for those who need a cool spot to be during the day. Others are passing out water, either at their facilities or sending it along with outreach teams. In addition, crews contracted by the City of Portland to clean up campsites will limit their work until the heat wave subsides.

Staff at the City of Portland and Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services have compiled the following list of providers and their efforts to offer relief. The list will be updated, so please check back for updates.

Cooling Centers to open in Multnomah County on Tuesday, Aug. 1

With temperatures expected to climb into triple digits this week and remain high for several days, Multnomah County will open three cooling centers to help seniors and people with disabilities and other health conditions stay safe.

HOW TO FIND A COOLING CENTER NEAR YOU:

Cooling centers will open Tuesday, Aug. 1 and remain open through at least Monday, Aug. 7 at the locations listed below. The centers may remain open beyond this date if the temperature remains above 90 degrees. All cooling centers will be open from 5 pm to 8 pm on weekdays and 2 pm to 8 pm on weekends.

  • Multnomah County Walnut Park Building, 5325 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland
  • Multnomah County East Building, 600 NE 8th St., Gresham
  • Hollywood Senior Center, 1820 NE 40th Ave., Portland

Pets and children are welcome at all three cooling center locations. Each location also will have activities including board games and movies. Snacks and water also are available.

Additional Cooling Center open to all at the American Legion Post 134, 2104 NE Alberta St., Portland, Tuesday through Thursday from 10:30 am to 7 pm and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Transportation to cooling centers can be arranged by calling Ride Connection at 503-226-0700. Advance reservations are encouraged. All rides are free of charge.

Community members are encouraged to check on elderly or vulnerable friends and relatives and also to sign up to receive email alerts about future cooling center openings.

Click to View Printable Flyer

Click to View Printable Flyer


TIPS FOR STAYING COOL:

  • Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. People with health conditions such as epilepsy, heart or kidney disease should talk to a doctor before increasing their consumption.
  • Find the cool places. Visit a family member or neighbor with air conditioning, or go to the nearest public library, shopping mall or other cooled space.
  • Dress for the weather. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Never wait in a parked vehicle or leave a child, elder or pet waiting in a parked car. Temperatures inside parked vehicles can rise dangerously high -- even with the windows open.
  • Slow down. Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities until the heat of the day has passed.
  • Stay out of the sun. Sunburn interferes with the skin’s ability to cool.
  • Take a cool bath, shower or sponge bath. Cool water can help cool an overheated body.
  • Pay attention to older adults, people with disabilities or health conditions.
  • Check on those who are at-risk at least twice a day.

For additional tips, visit www.multco.us/help-when-its-hot

The Multnomah County Aging, Disability and Veterans Services Helpline has resources for older adults and people with disabilities, including a list of senior centers, transportation services and 24-hour crisis intervention.

For more information, call 503-988-3646 or TTY at 503-988-3683.

For heat advisory information in different languages, please visit https://multco.us/help-when-its-hot/tips-print-and-post

Housing advocates rally against threatened federal cuts: "Housing is a human right"

Housing advocates rally against threatened federal cuts: "Housing is a human right"

Housing advocates, clients and elected leaders gathered by the dozens in North Portland on Friday, July 28 with a plea for White House officials considering billions of dollars in cuts to housing, homelessness and anti-poverty services.

Don’t cut funding that pays for thousands of apartments and rental vouchers. Don’t even hold the line. Follow our lead, and help us save lives, by investing even more.

“Public housing saved my life,” said Annie Calhoun, a cancer and stroke survivor who relied on housing through Home Forward to weather treatment and seven operations in the past year.

“I’m a tough cookie,” she continued. “But if I didn’t have a stable home that I could rely on, I’m not sure I’d be here to talk to you lovely folks. We don’t have enough affordable housing. I’m here to tell the federal government we need more.”

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury speaks at a housing rally, Friday, July 28, 2017, while Commissioner Loretta Smith, Mayor Ted Wheeler and others look on.

The rally at McCoy Park, in the heart of New Columbia, was one of a series of events nationwide for National Housing Week of Action(link is external), led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Providers and advocates are reacting to what they say are troubling budget discussions in Washington, D.C., around housing: Under the White House’s proposed national spending plan, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would see a $6.8 billion cut.

For Oregon, that comes to $80 million less for Oregon every year, with more than $20 million in cuts possible just for Multnomah County, according to data from Home Forward(link is external), the region’s local housing authority. Proposed White House cuts would zero out local funding for programs including Meals on Wheels, employment training and housing rehabilitation. Local funding that helps maintain buildings with public housing would be cut by nearly 70 percent.

MEDIA ADVISORY: “Our Homes, Our Voices”: For National Housing Week of Action, local leaders answer White House threats to housing with call for more funding, not less

For immediate release: Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Contact: Denis Theriault, Communications Coordinator, Portland/Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services, 503-893-9430.

WHO: Local and state leaders, community members, clients, providers and advocates. Speakers are expected to include Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, State Sen. Lew Frederick and Home Forward Executive Director Michael Buonocore.

WHAT: Rally and press conference, with interviews available after the event.

WHEN: Friday July 28, 2017, 12:30-1:30 pm.

WHERE: McCoy Park (weather permitting), N Trenton St & Newman Ave, Portland, OR 97203.

PORTLAND -- Dangerous conversations are playing out right now in Washington, D.C., on the future of our federal government’s commitment to affordable housing and homelessness services.

Under the White House’s proposed national budget, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would see a $6.8 billion cut. That would amount to $80 million less for Oregon every year, and $20 million less for Multnomah County. Those cuts would be devastating at a time when we need even more federal funding, not less, to expand our unprecedented local investments in helping hundreds of people off our streets every day.

To make clear that cuts aren’t acceptable, to demand new investments instead of merely holding the line, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has designated this week, July 22-29, as National Housing Week of Action.

Communities across the country are rallying in support of federal housing and anti-poverty programs that save lives, and on Friday, leaders from Portland, Multnomah County, Home Forward and the state of Oregon will join them with an event at New Columbia in North Portland.

We rely on federal funding for a range of services, from Meals on Wheels for our seniors to construction of new affordable housing to the rental vouchers that help working families or people with disabilities stay off our streets.

Those programs make a difference. They work. And they’re particularly important in our community, where housing costs are failing to keep up with incomes. But we’ve been watching federal officials do less and less for years, even as our local leaders have scraped to find ways to do more and more.

Since last year, voters in Portland passed a historic bond measure to pay for affordable housing. Portland and Multnomah County leaders have spent record amounts on homelessness services and seen record amounts of housing placements and shelter use in return.

Our community was the first on the West Coast to win federal honors for addressing homelessness among Veterans. And state leaders, while facing a difficult budget this year, have nonetheless invested millions of dollars more in rent assistance, shelter beds and housing.

But without real federal partnership, without meaningful federal investments, none of that will be enough to support all of our neighbors in need. It won’t be enough to end homelessness. And it won’t be enough to ensure everyone in our community has a home they can afford.

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A message from the Mulnomah County Health Department: Heroin overdose spike reported in downtown Portland

Multnomah County Health Department is aware of a recent spike in heroin overdoses concentrated in downtown in Portland. 
 
Key messages for anyone who uses heroin or may be at risk of returning to using heroin:

  • Don’t use alone.
  • Don’t mix heroin with alcohol or pills.
  • Carry naloxone and have an overdose plan
  • Know that it may take more than two doses of naloxone to reverse an overdose.
  • Be extra careful if you have been clean for awhile (like jail, detox, hospital, or you just cut back yourself) because your tolerance level may have changed and you may want to use a smaller amount.
  • Consider getting some help. Call 1-800-923-HELP for free, confidential, alcohol/drug counseling and treatment referral.

If you think someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 and give naloxone if you can.

Please find attached information to print and distribute.

For more information please contact:
Multnomah County Health Department, (503) 988-3030

Jennifer Vines, MD, MPH
Deputy Health Officer
Multnomah County Health Department

 

Meyer Memorial Trust announces funding opportunity for supportive housing proposals

Ending chronic homelessness in our community -- helping people with disabilities and addictions into housing and out of emergency rooms and shelters -- means expanding our community's capacity for housing that comes with support services attached.

Our partners at Meyer Memorial Trust announced another opportunity for funding "collaborative projects working to better align affordable housing opportunities with services that contribute to residents’ stability and success."

"By supporting focused efforts across multiple systems, Meyer aims to assist the broader fields of affordable housing and supportive services by highlighting replicable models of successful collaboration, identifying specific strategies to promote effective cooperation across systems or service providers, and identifying policy barriers to better coordination."

Meyer invites proposals from collaboratives working to better align affordable housing with services that contribute to residents’ stability and success. Applications are due by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. More details regarding this funding opportunity and how to apply can be found at at mmt.org/RFP.

Please share this opportunity with your networks.

New milestones in homelessness services: Record use of emergency shelter; housing placements ahead of pace

Partners working with A Home for Everyone, our community-wide initiative to end homelessness in Multnomah County, served a record number of people in emergency shelter this year. The milestone is part of the payoff of last year’s dramatic expansion in capacity.

Through the first nine months of fiscal year 2017, which ends June 30, providers say they’ve helped 6,733 people, according to a new quarterly outcomes report released this week. That eclipses the 6,644 people served through all of fiscal year 2016, our community’s previous record.

In addition, housing placements are significantly ahead of last year’s pace through nine months. In all, providers helped place 3,535 people into housing between July 1, 2016 and March 31, 2016 – 338 more people than at the same point last year. Last year’s housing placement numbers also set a record at 4,603.

Both increases speak to the fallout from the ongoing housing crisis that is pushing people into homelessness and keeping them there. Rents and housing costs continue to outpace income for our most vulnerable neighbors.

A Home For Everyone Coordinating Board Seeking Member Applications

The A Home for Everyone Coordinating Board is collecting applications for Coordinating Board membership, particularly from individuals who have background or expertise in East County/Gresham Services or School Districts. 

The Coordinating Board of A Home for Everyone was chartered by Multnomah County, the City of Portland, the City of Gresham, and Home Forward. Its members are appointed for two year terms by the Executive Committee of the Board to oversee and advise the Executive Committee on the ongoing implementation of the community-wide strategic plan to end homelessness. Members are selected to represent the diverse constituencies with interest and expertise in ending homelessness.

The Coordinating Board is directly responsible for the allocation of federal homeless assistance dollars that are annually allocated to our continuum of care. The Coordinating Board also advises on local policy and the investment of local funds directed toward homeless services.

Please visit ahomeforeveryone.net for more information about A Home For Everyone, the Board, Executive Committee and the Charter

If you are interested in applying, please click here to fill out the Interest Form. Once completed, please send the Interest Form to Carrie Young, A Home For Everyone Program Assistant, at carrie.young@multco.us. The deadline to apply is end-of-business on Friday, August 4th, 2017.

If you have further questions, please contact Carrie Young, A Home For Everyone Program Assistant, at carrie.young@multco.us.