A Home for Everyone: It's a plan for everyone.
A Home for Everyone is the first ever truly community-wide plan and initiative to respond to the crisis of homelessness in Multnomah County. We unite people who experience homelessness; elected officials from Portland, Gresham, and Multnomah County; our local housing authority, Home Forward, and leaders from the faith, philanthropy, business and non-profit sectors in the effort to end homelessness.
How we Do It
To reduce homelessness (unmet need for permanent housing), we must cut the number of people who become homeless each year (prevention) and increase the number of people who leave homelessness for permanent housing each year (placements). And for those who can't immediately access permanent housing, we need to offer emergency shelter.
As we increase cost-effective prevention, we can reduce the number of more expensive new placements needed. That also means we can serve more people with the shelter beds we already have. Using data, and practices that we know work, we commit our scarce public resources and set specific goals that allow us to do enough for long enough to make homelessness rare, brief, and one time.
What We've done so far
Housing affordability and homelessness remain at crisis levels in our community. But in A Home for Everyone's fifth year (fiscal year 2018-19), our partners served more people than ever – more than 37,000 people – with some level of housing and support services. Those interventions include placing people out of homelessness and into permanent housing; providing a safer night of sleep in emergency shelter; help avoiding eviction or homelessness; and help staying in permanent housing.
On any given night in 2019 our partners supported more than 12,000 people in housing — with rent assistance and other services — who otherwise might have been homeless. Thousands had been homeless until receiving that help and left the streets because of it. The rest avoided homelessness in the first place because of that assistance.
That number has doubled since 2015, when the combined number of people served in housing on any given night was just 6,000.
Shelter access has also increased as capacity in our year-round publicly funded shelter system increased. Thousands more people are using shelter over the course of a full year now than in 2013-14.
In addition, in 2016, thanks to federal funding, veteran homelessness in the County reached “functional zero.” That means we've created a system that quickly helps veterans on our "active" services list off our streets and back into housing. Our community was the first on the West Coast to win that recognition. It shows we can succeed when we commit to doing enough for long enough.
Without the thousands of people we've helped back into housing and off our streets, the increases we've seen in overall homelessness would be much larger and more like what other large West Coast cities are facing.
what we do, we do together
JOINT OFFICE OF HOMELESS SERVICES
Investing More, investing efficiently
In order to do more, and continue to meet our goals, the City of Portland and Multnomah County increased investments in prevention, placement and shelter.
The City of Portland declared a housing emergency in fall 2015. The City and Multnomah County then invested a combined additional $20 million in homeless services. And they created a Joint Office of Homeless Services to streamline how those services are delivered.
Supported by the Joint Office, A Home for Everyone coordinates policy-making and planning across governments and private-sector partners through our Executive Committee and Coordinating Board.
We are innovating to achieve more with the limited resources available, for example:
Partnering with Private Landlords
The lack of available units is the biggest challenge to our efforts to end homelessness. We now offer private landlords a wide range of financial incentives and supports to encourage them to rent to homeless people.
Linking Housing and Employment Services
Stable housing leads to success in employment, while employment income is needed for stable housing. Our programs now connect rental assistance and employment training to maximize the benefits of each.
Aligning Mental Health, Corrections, and Homelessness
There is a group of people who have long histories of cycling through the mental health, corrections, and homeless services systems. By aligning those systems to identify and better serve those people – we will save the community money and improve outcomes for those served.
Making it Simple and Mobile
Too often someone needing help struggles to figure out where to go for services, how to apply for them, and finds themselves having to fill out separate applications at many different agencies. We are creating a shared community-wide data platform, a shared application process, and we are bringing services to the people through mobile outreach teams to make sure people get the services they need.
Offering Different Shelter Options
Shelter offers vital basic safety and access to hygiene services, and it is a place to connect with housing, employment and health services needed to get back into permanent housing. This year we are not only adding 650 beds of shelter, we are adding shelter in different parts of the community, for couples and people who are still struggling with addiction, that is open 24/7, and that accommodates pets and possessions.