City pumps $1 million into housing bottleneck

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

The Portland Housing Bureau announced this month how it plans to spend a $1 million special allocation to address the rise in homelessness in Portland.

The money is being used to alleviate the housing bottleneck by placing homeless people currently in shelters or transitional facilities, into permanent housing, and to then use those empty shelter and transitional beds for people now living on the streets.

The Housing Bureau expects that 200 individuals or family members will be permanently housed, the incomes of 47 people will increase through job and employment training, and 105 beds in shelters and transitional housing will open for people currently living outside.

“It’s a crisis time in our system,” says Portland Housing Bureau Director Margaret Van Vliet, speaking about the economic pressures put on the homeless network of services.

“If we can help people who are a little bit stuck and ready to transition to the next level of housing…then we free up more space along the continuum,” Vliet said.

“There will be people who will be permanently self sufficient because of this money,” Traci Manning, Central City Concern’ s chief operating officer, said.

The $1 million is funding two collaborations of service agencies, one serving homeless adults and the second serving homeless youth.

The adult collaboration is composed of seven social service agencies, led by the outreach agency JOIN. The other agencies are Central City Concern, Cascade AIDS Project, the Black Parent Initiative, the Salvation Army’s female shelter, and Catholic Charities’ El Programa Hispano and Housing Transitions Programs.

The collaboration received $820,000. JOIN’ s executive director, Marc Jolin, said JOIN will focus on placing people into permanent housing and provide rental assistance, move-in and moving costs, and other support services so people can stay in their housing.

Manning said Central City Concern will use its portion of the money to provide eviction prevention and rent assistance, move 40 people into permanent housing, and help 30 people find employment or apply for Social Security benefits.

The other agencies will provide housing placement for people living with HIV/AIDS, ethnic minorities, and homeless women.

The youth collaboration is made up of New Avenues for Youth, Janus Youth Programs, the Native American Youth and Family Center, and Outside In. The collaboration received $180,000. $51,000 of that money will infuse Janus Youth’ s outreach programs, which suddenly and unexpectedly did not receive a $100,000 grant from the federal government earlier this month.

Dennis Lundberg, a Janus associate director, said the money will be used to rehire two full-time outreach staff he was forced to lay off after the federal grant fell through. Ken Cowdery, the executive director of New Avenues, said the remaining money will be used to house 20 youths and provide employment and job training services.

Mayor Sam Adams gave this one-time allocation to the Housing Bureau in April to address homelessness in the Portland’ s downtown core. The money was originally meant to increase the amount of shelter beds, but City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the Housing Bureau, convened meetings of stakeholders, including social service providers, activists, law enforcement and business leaders. The group decided to use the money on permanently housing homeless people.

The stakeholders involved have perspectives about homelessness that are often extremely disparate from each other. For instance, the Portland Business Alliance has long advocated for the increase of shelter capacity, which is at loggerheads with Portland’s emphasis on spending resources placing homeless people directly into housing.

Sources say the process of applying for the funding was no different than other proposal applications. What was slightly unusual, sources said, was the inclusion of very specific language regarding how many people were to placed in permanent housing.

Jolin described the goal numbers the proposal process identified as “aggressive,” but says they will not be impossible to meet because of the collaborating agencies’ ability to leverage their existing services.

“What’ s exciting is that it is going to allow us to serve some people who are difficult to house,” Jolin said. “Otherwise), we wouldn’t have the ability to house them.”

Given that the money is one-time funding, none of the agencies will be hiring additional staff. With the city expecting to lose revenue this year, it is unlikely that the money will be renewed.

“I am going to assume that the chances are not very high,” said Van Vliet, although she said it was possible that the Housing Bureau would seek the money from community sources, such as local businesses, especially if outcomes are successful.

The city has also announced its winter shelter initiative, to begin in mid-November. Transition Projects will receive $190,000 to operate an overnight warming center for single women living on the streets. The Salvation Army will receive $180,000 to help operate winter emergency shelter and day services at its Harbor Light facility at Second Avenue and Burnside.

One response to “City pumps $1 million into housing bottleneck

  1. In Maine, even the shelters have waiting lists. Cities seem to have no money going into new shlters or housing. Here is a think piece about cold Maine.
    What Our Government Will Not Tell Us!

    By Jan LightfootLane

    The Deliberately Broken Safety Net

    The safety net consist of mostly governmental programs who provide food, housing and in case of disability, income. The private sector should make-up for any lack of these programs.

    Some of these programs in one form or another – have existed here, in the states with little improvement, in the past 60 years. Others have been dropped.

    When the programs fail to work its often due to abuse by the officials, or Official Abuse of its low paid citizens. “The Hate the poor crowd” overlook most oficial abuse.

    Since before America became a country, or in the colonial times their have been relief for the poor. As the programs, we today call general relief, general assistance and town welfare.

    Some near sighted republicans want to remove these. Others call for them to be fixed, to serve every one in need, up to the full necessity to support life. With the election giving the republicans the power, we must fight a long standing injustice as well the new ones.

    Many facts about the safety net, the security and protection of the thoughtfully composed programs, are hidden by the Government and it’s puppet of media. At best, these set of courses, are designed by the upper middle classes, with not thought to the poor attempting to access them. At worst, they are policy, which are intentionally changed according to how gullible those in hardship seems. This means the laws behind the assistance to the poor are UNFAIRLY Applied by the trusted Law givers. Occasionally, these unlawful actions by officials, results in the applicants, physical death. Other times just the death of hope. This whimful application of laws causes the lost belief in justice for all. Such is a violation of both Constitutional and human rights.

    Such happens with the so called safety net for the disabled, SSI and SSDI. Half of those who seek a lawyer, are find eligible for benefits. And 2/3 of all American on disabilities federal programs, receive LESS Than the price of the rent. Then are called lairs and thieves, when they find the other require monies. As are many TANF Mothers.

    Why aren’t programs set up to cover 100% of the need? This is democrats need to be calling to happen.

    Today we focus upon General Relief. Not all states has this. But those who do has state laws which is intended to guide conduct of officials. So with officials twisting the laws, qualified people are denied help. The stated plan of action is put aside, to save money in the short term. Yet the public think help flows freely for all of those who need such.

    Many programs, are transposed at delivery. This process could be likened to aide workers throwing darts at a photo of the town manager. Then if, the projectile gets him in the nose you are aided. The bogus excuses, are similar in nature no matter what state or town you are in. We lack funds, we helped your cousin twice removed, and we cannot aid you. You have to in town X amount of days, when the law clearly say if you just arrived in town and plan to stay they should be helping you. You are under 18 years of age. And so on.

    If we call out to the news to inform others of this flaw, the print media refuse’s to print how one guy slept in his car with faulty heater wiring, and burnt to death after the safety net program of General Assistance denied him a place to sleep.

    Mainstream newspapers refuse to carry editors, telling folks how the eligible are routinely and with illegal thought and actions denied aid. People become and remain homeless due to lies by towns, state, and federal officials.

    But us Public are comfortable in the illusion, that those in need will be aided. When in fact they Are PUSHED THROUGH THE SAFETY NET. Those in need are told lies, instead of having fairly applied laws be validly given them.

    Does denying the qualified save money in the long run? No A study of 30 years ago found the un-housed are more likely to be injured, raped, get sick etc. This means hospital bills, lost of hope in the system, and death. It cost more to treat one case of pneumonia than to house 10 families.

    This lies by officials is a form of income-cide. The killing of those regardless of ethnic background due to lack of poverty. Neglect which causes death of hope or body, is murder. We need to inform the everyday republicans, that many of them also are one step away from needing help. Those blaming the poor, for a state of society leaning toward being barbaric in nature, they are looking in the wrong direction. Whooray for me the heck with other people, is the rallying cry for those blaming their pain on the deliberately underpaid. They needs to widening their gaze, and see the entire picture.

    This is one of the many things the government does not want you to know.

    Jan LightfootLane,

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