Meet Rich

Without personal context the massive scale of the homelessness issue, and potential solutions, tends to ride on the egos of the ones doing the “fixing.” At Community of Hope, we know that context, and relationship, is everything, especially when we believe that those experiencing homelessness are absolutely capable of transformative growth and healing. We also know that no two stories are the same, but HOPE is a common theme for a reason.

Meet Rich.

Before moving into Community of Hope Rich and his 11-year-old daughter Keira were doubling-up with a friend to have a safe place to stay.  But that situation put their friend’s housing at risk so Rich looked for other options and eventually found what they needed at Hope House. 

From the start, Keira and Rich were right at home at Hope House – Keira was great with the smaller children and made friends with adults and kids alike. Rich jumped right into community life and found ways to help by fixing things here and there.

As much as they loved the community at Hope House, they dreamt of a space of their own. Rich had a part-time job but felt overwhelmed by the the difficulties of moving to full-time while caring for Keira and by the process of finding a place he could afford. Even more challenging was making the right decision for his family.  

Receiving the news of making it to the top of a housing list in Clackamas County seemed like a great opportunity, but the more Rich thought about it, the more he realized his hope for Keira was to stay in the same neighborhood and school. Taking a courageous leap of faith, he turned down the offer, hoping for something local. With the support of a housing specialist this summer he able to secure funding for a place in the neighborhood!

Rich still loves to stop in to visit Hope House, bringing his talents and time to give back to the community that has helped him along his journey.  Every time he visits, he wants to hear that familiar greeting of, “Welcome Home”.

Watch this video to catch a glimpse of Rich and Keira and share it to encourage others!

Join Community of Hope in continuing to help families like Rich and Keira move from homelessness to stability.

You can support Community of Hope today in building capacity to meet this expanding need.  Please give today to help us meet our $50,000 year-end campaign goal before January 1st or join with us in “Dreaming Big in 2019” to begin the process of expanding to a second North Portland location. Become part of the solution!

Homelessness in Portland: Part II

City officials from the United States Conference of Mayors identified lack of affordable housing as the leading cause of homelessness among unaccompanied individuals. This was followed by poverty, mental health and the lack of needed services, and substance abuse.

Housing affordability in Portland has continued to decline as rents and home prices continue to climb, outpacing incomes. The average monthly rent in Portland rose 7 percent between 2015 and 2016. That was the fourth consecutive year that Portland has seen an annual rent increase in excess of 5 percent, with the average rent increasing nearly 30 percent since 2012.

According to a recent release from the S&P/Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index that measures changes to home prices through a twenty-city composite index, “Seattle, Portland, and Dallas reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities. A full-time worker in the Portland metro area would need to earn an annual income of $49,680 in order to afford a two bedroom apartment in the metro area without being rent burdened. This would require the worker to work forty hours a week at $23.88 per hour or work for ninety-two hours a week at Oregon’s minimum wage last year.” 

For many, homelessness is a new event.

Loss of a job, health issues, and raising rents have an impact. Just under one-third (29.1%) of the unsheltered population reported that this was the first time they were experiencing homelessness.

Historical and continued systemic discrimination is plainly evident as well. Families of people of color had a higher percentage of homelessness than the overall population in the 2017 Point in Time Count in Portland.

In the overall homeless population, 15.7% of people were part of families without children. 40.8% of these children were 5 years old and younger. 24% of people of color were part of families with children.  

The figure below shows how much more likely a person of color is to be homeless in Portland than someone who is White, Not Hispanic.

For example, Native Americans are 402 percent more likely to be homeless than are people who are White and not Hispanic or Latino, Black/African Americans are 180 percent more likely to be homeless, and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders are 198 percent more likely to be homeless. Overall, people of color are 55 percent more likely to be homeless than are White people. Keep in mind that this does not take into account the doubled-up population or those who were not counted.

Family dynamics also impact homelessness.

 Just over one-third (33.7%) of the respondents experiencing unsheltered and sheltered homelessness reported that they have experienced domestic violence. Just over one-fifth (21%) of the adult unsheltered population that responded as having experienced domestic violence responded that they were currently fleeing from domestic violence. 10.4 percent of people reporting experience with domestic violence are in adult-child households.

A bright spot in all of this is that progress is being made, housing is being built and in the case of Nesika IIlahee, meaning “Our Place” in the Chinook language, it will be a three-story wood-framed building featuring 59 units of studios, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments. Twenty units will be reserved for enrolled members of federally recognized tribes.

“Despite making up 2.5 percent of the population, Native Americans represented 10 percent of those counted as homeless in 2017. Native Americans were also four times more likely to experience homelessness compared to people who are white.”

Supporting Community of Hope means you are helping families who experience racial and ethnic discrimination, domestic violence, and economic challenges overcome their barriers to find homes they can afford in this limited market. Please give today. Become part of the solution.  

Homelessness in Portland

Portland is not alone in combating the current housing epidemic. Cities and municipalities up and down the West coast, as well as many other pockets around the country, are experiencing many of the same problems.  Rising rents, stagnant wages, exorbitant health care costs, and limited housing supply all explain, in part, the why so many people are struggling to maintain stable housing.

In our community, change has happened quickly across the city and it is sometimes difficult to grasp the problem, let alone the solutions. Since 2009, however, researchers have conducted regional bi-annual Point in Time Counts of people experiencing houselessness .  The most recent snapshot, from a night in late February 2017, counted 4,177 people, some in transitional shelter, some in emergency shelter, and some on the street or in camps, in tents and vehicles.
The results of that Point in Time Count revealed that while our community had experienced a 9.9 percent increase in the total population counted (4,177) in the 2017 Portland Point in Time count compared to the 2015 Portland Point in Time count (3,801), because of the expansion of emergency shelter, the number of people counted in shelter beds increased from 872 in 2015 to 1,752 in 2017, a 100 percent increase.

With the abrupt closure of the Human Solutions no turn-away family shelter in early 2018, the numbers are growing again and the need is particularly  desperate. People who were part of families with children made up 15.7 percent of those who were experiencing homelessness on the night of the count. Community of Hope is an active part of the effort to find safe places for people with children to stay.

The Point in Time count did not include people who are sharing the housing of others for economic reasons (a situation frequently referred to as “doubled up”), but an analysis of available data from local school districts indicates that there are at least twice as many households with school age children attending public schools who are living doubled up than in 2015. Families with children are often in this category because they will lose their children if they do not have a safe place to live, so doubling up or living with an abusive partner in return for a place to stay is very common.

Other Resources for Understanding the Scope of the Problem
From Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods
Homelessness Snapshot from Transition Projects

You can support Community of Hope today in building capacity to meet this expanding need.  Please give today to help us meet our $50,000 year-end campaign goal before January 1st or join with us in “Dreaming Big in 2019” to begin the process of expanding to a second North Portland location. Sign-up to learn more about our Future Foundation Initiative here.  
Become part of the solution.

Raise Hope 2018

Our Raise Hope 2018 Gala was a huge success!

We surpassed our goal of $60,000 to raise over $70,000. This will allow us to not only support families in healing and growth, but also provide more support in finding housing in this tight housing market.

Did you attend? See if you can find a picture of yourself here! You weren’t there? Read about all the highlights from the night and check out all these smiles!

Attendees of the gala were welcomed into University of Portland’s Bauccio Commons by beautiful rose centerpieces gracing each of the tables, the artistry of local musicians, John Van Beek’s Django Reinhardt inspired guitar work and Eddie Parente’s soaring violin,  and the dynamic duo of AllOne Community Services board members, Stephen Dilworth and Ali Craven leading us as co-hosts for the evening.

Lindsay Jensen, Executive Director of St. Johns Center for Opportunity led the evening by giving a report on the housing challenge in our community.

Based on findings from a study of Portland State’s Masters in Urban Planning students, the housing market is becoming tighter for low income families. In spite of new housing in our community, less is available for families on a fixed income. Until a 3-person household makes at least 80% of median family income or $44,000 a year, they can’t afford to live in North Portland and most of the city without being cost burdened (paying over half their income on housing.)

Keynote speaker, Libra Forde, Chief Operating Officer of Self Enhancement Inc. shared her personal story of overcoming domestic violence and homelessness as a single mom.

She learned that HOPE means Hang On. Pain Ends. With support of agencies similar to Community of Hope, she was able to overcome her challenges, her children were able to heal, and she is now a successful, confident leader in our community.  She challenged the audience to support Community of Hope, who provides the kind of help that she and her family needed.

Linda Jo Devlaeminck, Program Director of Community of Hope, shared a video of April and her daughter, Infinity, past residents of Community of Hope, who were able to find housing against all odds and are enjoying their own home for the first time in their lives.

She reviewed the work they have been doing to help parents and children overcome Adverse Childhood Experiences like homelessness, living with adults that use drugs, witnessing or experiencing domestic violence, or being bullied. They have been able to celebrate many successes! However, all this will do no good without a stable home to move into when they leave. We asked for additional funding to support a part time housing specialist to teach RentWell, a tenant education class, mentor families as they look for housing, build relationships with funding resources to help them get into housing, and build relationships with landlords to open doors to homeless families. Charlotte Mitchell-Reese, our staff person working on this, is already making great progress and is eager to have more time to make a greater impact. Thanks to you, we can now give her more hours to do this vital work.

And our volunteer team made the evening a smooth and pleasant event. We could not do this without you!

Watch the video below to learn more about the journey toward home for past Community of Hope resident, April, and her daughter, Infinity.

Eight lucky people won the “keys” to the Raffle baskets. Just like some families wait to see if they find a place, the anticipation was high!

Ben Forgarty, of The Brigade, was the winning bidder for the special Legacy Shower Shadowbox.

Before renovations in the summer of 2016, residents used a shower trailer that was available only 3 days a week for two hours at a time. With the real showers, we are now a home, not just a place to sleep. We auction this special item off each year and the highest bidder gets to sign it and then it spends the year hanging in our shower room as powerful reminder to the residents of the many supportive people who have given to make Hope House a reality.

So many smiles! Thank you to everyone who attended. We were so happy to share this special night with you all!
Special thanks to our many sponsors:
Marmoset, Franz Bakery Foundation, Metro, Key Bank, Zepak, Beneficial State Bank, Holy Cross Church, The Madeleine Peace and Justice committee, Freemont United Methodist Church, Journey 3, Portland French Bakery, Speaker Tina Kotek, and individual donors.

The Results

Impacting families’ lives is our job at Community of Hope. We want them to both heal from past trauma and to find safe and stable homes.  How can we tell if we have been successful? How do we know if parents or children have made any progress?

Seeing if residents continue to not retraumatize is easy. Maggie is clean and has the tools to stay clean. She is not returning to the abusive relationship she had in the past. She now has a stable place to live and the income to pay the bills. Over 75% of the families who complete our program move into a safe place.

Measuring if residents grew and healed is a bit more subjective. When Maggie moved out, she listed many ways she had grown while she was here. She grew as a parent, seeing her children’s needs, growing in patience and understanding, setting boundaries, and communicating clearly. She grew in self confidence that she could manage by herself with the support of many friends and helpers. She learned how to resolve conflicts and how to not let shame control her actions when she makes mistakes. She can see how she needs to change and takes positive steps to make good decisions. She and we have seen so much growth. This is typical of the families who stay long enough to complete our program.

In my years at the Community of Hope, I have watched despair and fear turn to courage and resolve, self-loathing to acceptance and hope. It is not easy for them, nor for us, for we and they together must learn to interpret their particular needs and develop a plan to fulfill them. It is what we are called to do.

Gwendolyn, Hope House Staff Member

For them: new hope, stability, safety, self-respect, and independence. For us: learning with each new family what we can do better, and the indescribable joy to see them settled on a path of self-reliance and–yes–of caring for and becoming a valued and essential part of their community. We–and they–are not always successful, but way more often than not, they do succeed. And society is better for their presence, their contributions, and their joy.

Living at Community of Hope made a big difference in the lives of Maggie, Carter, and Tara. Together, we can raise enough to increase staff wages to closer to a living wage, being a part of what brings greater hope, healing, and stability to the lives of many families through your support of Community of Hope.