We are seeing increased resources and efforts by the city, county and local organizations to reduce the number of people living on the streets of Portland. The mayor recently announced an RFP for enhanced street outreach to house 50 of the most vulnerable people. Cascadia is partnering with NARA and the Urban League on this effort.
Samantha Ridderbusch from Cascadia, and a Citizens Crime Commission board member, contributed this information about their role:
“Cascadia and our partners at Urban League and NARA are excited that the City of Portland has accepted our proposal for this NEW community resource to add new services and supportive housing resources, which will allow us to end the experience of homelessness for vulnerable adults, including young adults and seniors, as well as families with children who are vulnerable and are currently living on the streets of Portland.
We will quickly add new street outreach workers, who have a mix of personal and educational backgrounds and clinical skills, to quickly build trusting and supportive relationships with the diverse population who are in need of our services and housing opportunities. Our partnership will work in collaboration with designated liaisons with the specialized teams at the Portland Police Department, to help us quickly link those in need with our helpful staff who will listen to their stories and preferences, and work hand-in-hand with them to turn their hopes into reality.
In addition to having more highly trained street outreach staff in our community, we will bring an array of independent and supportive housing model options which have been proven effective and highly valued by the people these funds are intended to serve. Most of the people who will be assisted via this collaboration will have a serious disabling condition and very minimal financial resources. Many will lack any income at entry into care and will need assistance applying for benefits, which they are eligible to receive.
Our Housing First approach will allow us to quickly house and assist those without adequate – or even any income – as well as those with complex health issues who may not feel safe or supported enough to be involved in many of the more mainstream housing or service programs. Our housing options will include:
1. Some apartments within buildings where we have support services/therapeutic staff on site 24 hours-a-day, with specialized health services.
2. Individualized housing placement into apartments here in Portland, where we will provide assistance to set up the new apartment, along with short-term rental assistance and a minimum of 12 months of home based support services via Cascadia, NARA and the Urban League; and finally
3. Permanent supportive housing where we provide hands-on help to identify and secure a home (apartment), along with financial help for move-in expenses, ongoing home based support services (Cascadia, NARA and Urban League) and a monthly rental subsidy.
We have found the growing number of women, men and families sleeping outside on streets to be a heartbreaking reality. We know that the number of people sleeping outside for extended periods are all too often those who are extremely vulnerable with serious disabilities and minimal or zero personal support or resources to allow them to exit the streets. Moreover, there has been large increases in the percentage that are in this situation who are African-American, Latino and Native American, and we are dedicated to ensuring that they have the access to housing and support, which are effective and respectful to their needs.
All services will be voluntary and each individual and household who participates will be provided with options, and they will have the ability to tell us which services and housing model would best meet their personal needs and preferences. We are deeply appreciative to the City of Portland staff involved in this effort, the mayor, the Portland Police Department and all the many people, who work here in Portland to help end homelessness, for their continued dedication to helping create a safe, healthy and caring community.”
To learn more about the $1 million Homeless Pilot project, click here.