Tag Archives: Amanda Waldroupe

NW Health Foundation’s new president talks health care, fluoride and social justice

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

As the new president of the Northwest Health Foundation, Nichole Maher is both a fresh face and an old soul.

At only 33, she comes to the organization already with 10 years experience as the head of NAYA, the Native American Youth and Family Center. It was a decade of working within one of the nation’s largest Native American populations in the country, combating the challenges of racism and poverty with advocacy and education.

The Northwest Health Foundation takes on those same challenges in its approach to promoting better health for youths and adults across Oregon and southwest Washington.  The organization was founded in 1997 from the assets of the former Physicians Association of Clackamas County, believed to be the nation’s first pre-paid health plan in the nation. NWHF has distributed tens of millions of dollars in grants to hundreds of organizations working to improve the health of people struggling with economic disadvantages, especially low-income, minority and immigrant groups that don’t have access to health care.

The foundation has had a marked impact at the state government level — its program officers have worked closely with legislators and lobbyists on bills such as menu labeling, connecting local farms to school lunch programs, tobacco taxes, and the landmark legislation passed in 2011 and 2012 that reformed the Oregon Health Plan.

Maher says she was attracted to the organization’s commitment to social justice and its “honesty” around the inequities that exist. “I loved that they had been willing to take some risks, and talking about things traditional foundations would not do,” Maher says.

Amanda Waldroupe: Such as?

Nichole Maher: Talking about racial inequalities. They have taken stances on issues like tobacco taxes, fluoride, endorsed political issues that other foundations would not be comfortable with, like Measures 66 and 67. I liked the possibility of being an advocate for everyone in Oregon and southwest Washington, for all communities, and to be a voice for poor children and people in poverty, not just Native Americans. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being an advocate, but it might look a little different. Continue reading

Oregon’s great health care experiment: State puts $240 million on the line with coordinated care

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

Starting in September, the Portland metropolitan area’s largest private and public health care providers will forge a new way of delivering health care to some of the neediest and most vulnerable patients in the state, and they’ll do it in a way that seems impossible: by working together.

The organization the providers have created is called the Tri-County Medicaid Collaborative. It is one of dozens of coordinated care organizations, or CCOs, forming throughout Oregon to change how patients on the state’s Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan, receive health care.

Coordinated care organizations form the backbone of ambitious changes to the Oregon Health Plan pushed by Governor John Kitzhaber and bipartisan legislation the Oregon Legislature passed during the 2011 and 2012 sessions—an effort to not only provide higher quality care, but also to drastically reduce the state’s Medicaid expenditures by millions of dollars.

The Collaborative, like the rest of the state’s CCOs, does not have time to dally. CCOs are expected to save the state $239 million dollars in 2013 alone; if those savings are not made, it could be catastrophic for the state’s budget. Continue reading

Teens run court in an effort to keep young offenders out of the juvenile justice system

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

Off to one side of the Fairview City Council’s chambers, 10 teenagers sit in two rows of seats. Some slouch, while others can’t sit still — they let their legs bounce, look at their smart phones, lean over to talk to one another, and one even takes off a chain necklace and starts playing string games.

A handful of other teens, some accompanied by their parents, sit in seats facing the city council’s dais, where Portland attorney Shelley Keller sits in a judge’s robe. Continue reading

Oregon hold ’em: Mediation efforts ramp up for foreclosure victims

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

Housing and consumer advocates are eagerly counting down to July 11.

That is the day the provisions of the state’s new mandatory mediation law, passed by the Oregon Legislature earlier this year, go into effect.

The law requires banks to enter into mediation with homeowners 60 days before their home is foreclosed upon. Homeowners at risk of foreclosure — people, for instance, who have not paid their mortgages for a few months — are also eligible for mediation.

Mediation enables a representative of the bank and the homeowner to sit down for a one-on-one conversation regarding the homeowner’s situation. The hope, from consumer advocate’s point of view, is that the mediation process will reveal at least one option allowing the homeowner to stay in their home.

Oregon posted its highest foreclosure rate ever in the first quarter of 2012, at 3.86 percent. This translates to a total of 23,335 loans in the foreclosure process in Oregon.

The program would not be possible without the neary $30 million Oregon received in April as the result of the national mortgage settlement agreement reached between state attorneys general and the five major financial institutions deemed most responsible for the nation’s foreclosure crisis — Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Ally Financial, and Citigroup.

A fraction of those dollars — $7.6 million — was allocated in late May by the Legislature’s Emergency Board, a joint board of senators and representatives that meet when the Legislature is not in session.

Approximately $3.9 million will be used to start the mediation program, which will be overseen by the Department of Justice. The rest was given to Oregon’s Community and Housing Services agency to increase legal assistance to homeowners, expand the state’s network of housing counselors, and fund outreach efforts to find homeowners facing foreclosure who are eligible for mediation and other services. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

Street Roots will have about 80 vendors filing through the office for a new edition of the newspaper Friday morning. Get your copy bright and early from your neighborhood sales man or woman, and your weekend will be off to a great start! Here’s what’s rolling on the presses now:

Oregon Hold ’em: Mediation efforts ramp up for foreclosure victims, but other resources from the national mortgage settlement await lawmakers’ discretion. A look at what Oregon has on tap for its share of the money, and what other states have done with their portion.

The gravity of abuse: Part 2 in this riveting series that chronicles one families fall into domestic violence.

Quiz, culture and, oh yeah, community service: Wayne Baseden brings his own flavor and inspiration to the crew members assigned to Portland’s community service program.

Wee, the people: Jack Sim from the World Toilet Organization wants everyone to face facts around their most basic need.

Plus, commentary from Partnership for Safety and Justice, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, economist Robin Hahnel, Neighborhood Partnerships and Melissa Favara. Don’t forget to pack a dollar for Street Roots and have a great weekend read!

New federal guidelines for low-income housing cut out explicit tenant protections regarding bed bugs

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new landlord guidelines for dealing with bed bug infestations have some tenant-rights advocates concerned that renters could be on the hook for costly exterminations.

The new guidelines were released in late April, replacing its prior notice that had been published in August. Continue reading

Neighborhoods grapple with remnants of the foreclosure crisis: empty homes

Foreclosed, vacant and boarded up, this house on North Buffalo Street is one of hundreds in post-foreclosure limbo across the city, housing advocates say. Photo by Ken Hawkins

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

The house at 1310 N. Buffalo St. has been vacant and boarded up for four years.

It’s last owner died in 2008. The house was left to the man’s family, but he had become estranged from them. Not wanting anything to do with him, even in death, they didn’t want to keep the house.

Perhaps they could have sold it. But their deceased family member had taken out a large loan on the house for renovations, one so large that the house was worth less than the loan amount after the recession caused property values to decline.

They decided to walk away from the house, sending it into foreclosure.

“Nobody blames them,” says Chris Duffy, president of the Arbor Lodge neighborhood association, where the house is located. “They simply wanted to let it go and have nothing to do with it.” Continue reading

Portland Children’s Levy first budget reductions cut deep

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

For the first time in its history, the Portland Children’s Levy has cut funding to children’s programs — the byproduct of  declining property tax revenues. The drastic measures taken by the Levy’s allocation committee have sent ripples of shock and worry throughout the provider community.

“I cried,” says County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, a member of the Levy’s allocation committee. “These are among the most painful cuts I’ve made in my entire public career. We were making incredibly deep cuts to incredibly successful programs.”

Julie Young, a children’s advocate and community member of the Levy’s allocation committee, says children will be directly effected.

“We know that quality programs generally cost more money. It will be a hard challenge,” Young says. “There will be more waiting lists. It will mean that some programs that serve children will have to do more with less. Some children will not be served as well.” Continue reading

Making right from wrong: Oregon Youth Authority

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

In small, dormitory-like facilities across Oregon, the Oregon Youth Authority, or OYA, has direct custody of approximately 750 youth between the ages of 12 and 25, and supervises an additional 1,000 youth on parole and probation in their communities. As the state agency in charge of the state’s juvenile justice system, OYA is the gatekeeper for thousands of troubled  and disadvantaged young adults each year, and its new director, Fariborz Pakseresht, oversees it all.

Pakseresht first started working for the authority in 2008. Prior to that, he worked for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Administrative Services in a variety of leadership and administrative roles.

Pakseresht has developed a reputation for promoting government efficiency and transparency. He is also a member of the powerful Public Employees’ Benefit Board (PEBB), a group that decide the health plans for Oregon’s state employees.

Parseresht can talk numbers and data in the same breath that he talks about the stunning transformations he sees youth make while they are in the OYA’s custody. “Part of what creates an anchor for me in this organization is hearing the stories of youth who have made transformation in their lives,” he says.

Amanda Waldroupe: What causes youth to enter the corrections system?

Fariborz Pakseresht: You can look at the causes, and you can look at the symptoms. Clearly, the cause of them entering the system is a crime they have committed. If you dig deeper through the roots of those causes, some disturbing statistics emerge. Most of them are coming from families with drug and alcohol issues. A large majority — 74 percent of females and 62 percent of males — have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. Many are victims of sexual abuse — 40 percent of females—and in many cases, by their own family members. Sixteen percent of females and 12 percent of males are already the biological parent of a child. None of these are excuses for committing the crimes they have committed. But it is a point to be aware that many of these youth … were victims, who in the process created their own victims. Continue reading

Health care reform bills omit sociological, psychological services

By Amanda Waldroupe
Staff Writer

A patient’s housing and sociological condition can have a direct effect on his or her health care, but a bill in Salem to incorporate those providers into the new health care reform failed to make the books.

As a result, the legislature has left unanswered a critical question in the state’s new health care structure: Will health providers serving Oregon Health Plan patients work with social-service providers to address a patient’s sociological and psychological barriers to health care.

Senate Bill 1522 would have required coordinated care organizations, which are currently developing to provide care to Oregon Health Plan patients by July, to incorporate and pay for addressing a patient’s sociological and psychological barriers to getting quality health care and becoming healthy.

Coordinated care organizations (CCOs) are the backbone of the reforms the Legislature has made to the Oregon Health Plan’s delivery system (see, “Just What the Legislature Ordered,” Street Roots, Oct. 14). CCOs are foreseen as locally driven organizations made up of patient teams — including doctors, nurses, behavioral health providers, community health workers, etc.

Continue reading

‘Unemployed need not apply’ ads targeted by state lawmakers

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

Need a job to get a job? According to some companies, that’s how it works, and it is perfectly legal. Even as the unemployment rate languishes between 8 and 9 percent, employment ads have been popping up across the country advertising that the jobless need not apply.

In Salem, a bill that would prohibit employers from publishing print and online job advertisements that explicitly ask unemployed people to not apply for the job is moving its way through the Legislature this month and is likely to become law next week.

Advocates say Senate Bill 1548, which is being called the “Fair Employment Opportunity Act,” is sorely needed in order to not discourage Oregon’s unemployed and to give them an equal shot at getting back to work. Continue reading

Is turning manufactured housing parks into resident-owned cooperatives a key to preserving Oregon’s stock of affordable housing?

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

To hear Travis Blythe and Dan Fountain talk about the Vida Lea Mobile Lodge, you’d think it is the most beautiful place in Oregon, if not planet Earth.

“It’s in the mountains,” says Blythe, 67. “This park is still in the tall pines, and it’s still on good well water, instead of city water. It’s above the fog level of the valley, but it’s far enough down where it’s below any heavy snows. It’s one of the prettiest parks around.”

Vida Lea is located just off the McKenzie River Highway between Eugene and the Willamette National Forest. A single lane road curves up a small hill with single and double-wide manufactured homes on each side of the street, nestled into the trees. Residents can walk down the hill and across the street to the MacKenzie River and a nearby park.

But Vida Lea has deteriorated in the past few years to the point that it “just drops my jaw,” says Fountain, 59, who has lived in the park for eight years.

The road is cracked and needs repaving. A windstorm from last March felled a number of trees that stuffed the culverts and blocked drainage. Its septic system is close to failing. Fountain also says blackberry bushes have slowly grown throughout the park, becoming an eye sore in an otherwise beautiful area. Continue reading

Another political casualty: Needle exchange programs rely on local support after the feds bail on funding

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

For the second time in two years, Congress is reversing its policy on federal funding for syringe exchange programs, leaving many in health care business wondering how far local money can continue to carry the harm reduction programs.

While Portland and Multnomah County’s needle exchange clinics don’t expect a direct hit from the federal funding ban, shrinking state and local dollars are another issue altogether.

Kathy Oliver, the executive director of Outside In, a Portland-area homeless youth agency operating a needle exchange that is frequently used by young injection drug users, worries in particular about $63,000 in one-time money from the City of Portland that may be cut this year. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

Winter in Portland has finally caught up with us, especially the hard-working men and women out selling Street Roots. Remember to keep a dollar or two dry when you head out this weekend and pick up the latest edition of Street Roots from your friendly neighborhood vendor. Here’s what’s rolling on the press right now:

Another political casualty: Needle exchange programs rely on local support after the feds bail on funding. Amanda Waldroupe reports on how the policy reversal in Washington D.C. makes local funding even more critical.

Corporations aren’t people — except in politics: Janice Thompson with Common Cause looks at the impact of the Citizens United case one year on, with a reflection on the city’s own resolution condemning the Supreme Court decision on corporate personhood.

Barred for life: An interview with Harvard professor Bruce Western on inequality in America and the consequences we’re all paying as a result.

Patient Physician Cooperative seeks to remodel health care: A new, non-insurance way of paying for health care in Portland.

Plus, news, poetry, artwork and commentaries by economist Robin Hahnel, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and a review of a new book that investigates the student loan industry. Remember to bring a little sunshine into your weekend with a smile for your neighborhood vendor and a new edition of Street Roots. Thank you!

Making Portland’s complex food deserts grow green

Fresh vegetables are the star at the new Village Market, a nonprofit grocery store serving low-income families in North Portland.

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

Not having a grocery store near North Portland’s New Columbia neighborhood after Big City Produce closed in 2007, “was sad,” says resident Trevon Oliver.

Oliver, who has lived in New Columbia for four years, says people had to travel at least two and a half miles to the nearest grocery store, a Safeway in St. Johns neighborhood. Oliver traveled 12 miles to the WinCo on NE 102nd because food prices there were cheaper.

Grocery shopping became stressful. “A lot of people around here do not like to travel,” Oliver says. Two TriMet bus lines serve New Columbia, but only one runs regularly. Many in the elderly population who can’t drive relied upon friends or family for transportation. And some of New Columbia’s immigrant community — representing 22 countries and speaking 11 languages — are not fluent in English, and unfamiliar with Portland’s transportation system. Continue reading