Tag Archives: Deborah Kafoury

‘Domicile unknown’

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

Laurie Crow would have been 54 on Dec. 27, 2011.

Instead, she became one of 47.

Only a few weeks before her birthday, she died curled up in her sleeping bag in a meadow near Going Street. Her partner, Clarence, was next to her, awake and listening as she slept through daybreak.

What he was hearing, in fact, was her body cooling in the December chill. It was Dec. 7.

The other 46 were also homeless, and all died on the streets of Portland in 2011.

Fourty-seven: Nearly 1 a week. 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

Street Roots, Multnomah County release homeless deaths report

This morning, Multnomah County released a new report, co-authored by Street Roots on the number of homeless people who died on the streets last year. The county medical examiner’s office counted 47 men and women died literally on the streets in 2011, and that counts only those who fall within it jurisdiction. The Multnomah County Health Department considers it a subset of people who die homeless, and doesn’t count people who were under medical care at the time of their death, for example.

“This is not what a strong, healthy community looks like,” Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury told reporters at a press conference in the county offices this morning. Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer and City Commissioner Nick Fish also spoke on the report. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

What an exciting time to be a Portlander! Spring is in full stride, election buzz is in the air, and the new Street Roots arrives tomorrow morning! Don’t forget to tuck a buck in your purse, wallet or back pocket to trade for the finest news source in town, delivered by the friendliest vendors in the city. Here’s what’s rolling on the press now:

‘Domicile unknown:”  Multnomah County releases its first report on how many homeless people died on our streets last year. The report is proudly co-authored by Street Roots, which lead the campaign to better understand the toll taken by homelessness.

Portland Children’s Levy first budget reductions cut deep: With property tax revenues in decline, the Portland Children’s Levy was forced to make drastic reductions to programs that benefit low-income children in minority populations.

Just one more question!: Candidates for mayor, city council give their final answers on what they will do to improve the state of homelessness and housing in Portland.

Beat of a gypsy Hart: An interview with former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart in advance of his performance here in Portland, which will feature, of course, the universe.

Plus much much more, including commentaries by Janice Thompson of Common Cause on the money behind the mayor’s race, and from Gay and Grey on growing old gracefully in the queer community. And you’ll want to check out the poetry and prose of students at the Native American Youth and Family Center’s Language Arts Class, part of NAYA’s Early College Academy. And we’d love to hear from you, too. So let us know what you think by visiting our website, www.streetroots.org. and send in your letters and thoughts. Thank you for your support!


City opens up overnight camping option for select sites

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

For years, Portland’s anti-camping ordinance has been the target of countless demonstrations by the homeless and their supporters.

They have marched, protested and held vigils at City Hall against the city’s policy that makes camping illegal on public property or on unpermitted private land, which they say effectively criminalizes the thousands of people in this city without homes. Continue reading

TANF programs, already slashed earlier this year, drop again

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

Misty McGee is stuck in the waiting game.

“I feel like I’m on hold. It’s really frustrating.”

Her biggest opponent is her own health. Cancer at a young age took her out of school life and into a hospital regimen that included two surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments. Working against her are multiple disabilities that have hampered her attempts to secure gainful employment. Three years ago she escaped with her son from an abusive relationship and into shelter.

She got out of the shelter with the help of the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF program. Now, with chronic health issues preventing her from working – she’s says her doctor has had her on medical leave for the past year and a half – she’s wading through the years-long process of getting Supplemental Security Income. As is the routine for the majority of applicants, Misty was denied in the first round. She believes that she could get back to work eventually, but the program — that in her own words has helped her so much — will not be there to provide child support should she look for and secure work. And the TANF JOBS program is mere shadow of it’s former self, leaving people with high barriers to employment, similar to Misty, on the bubble. Continue reading

Commissioner Kafoury: In this economic crisis, County must make wise investments

By Deborah Kafoury, Contributing Writer

On a cold night last winter, I took my 10-year-old son with me to serve dinner at the Winter Warming Shelter. By the time we arrived, families were already lined up outside.

The evening flew by. While I helped dish out servings of lasagna, salad and roasted vegetables, my son played with the children who were staying at the shelter.

As we were driving home, I thanked my son for coming with me and asked him what he thought about the evening. He was silent for a minute and then, remembering the families waiting by the door, said “it was really cold out tonight.” Continue reading

Multnomah County Commissioners set to vote to oppose TANF cuts

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury is pushing forward a resolution to oppose the state’s proposed deep cuts to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF program.

The Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners will vote on the resolution tomorrow, May 5.  Street Roots reported on the cuts to the family- support program in our April 15 edition.

Street Roots has also created an avenue for people to write lawmakers and the Governor to ask not to cut the program.

More from the announcement from Kafoury’s office:

The Governor and the Oregon Legislature are discussing cuts to the TANF program, which provides cash assistance and job training to extremely low income families. The proposed cuts include limiting lifetime eligibility for assistance to 18 months, making Oregon’s time limit the shortest in the nation and less than 1/3 of the federal time limit of 60 months. About 7,000 families, including 11,000 children, would lose their TANF benefits by June 2013 under this proposal. The proposed cuts also reduce cash benefits and job training programs that help parents find work and become self sufficient.

Oregon’s TANF program currently provides cash assistance to 30,108 families (54,000 children), 8,353 of whom live in Multnomah County. “I have no doubt that the county will see an increase in dependence on our safety net programs as a result of these cuts,” says County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury.

“Cutting TANF is not going to solve the budget problems in Salem,” says Kafoury. “It will have a real and harmful impact on the lives of children in our community. TANF helps parents work their way out of poverty and become self sufficient. Taking away parents’ ability to provide food or shelter for their children is not good policy and will be devastating for thousands of families.”

TANF only serves families with children with incomes less than 40 percent of the federal poverty level ($7,300 per year for a family of three). The current maximum monthly benefit for a family of three is $506.

“TANF assistance may make the difference between a family living in a home or on the street,” says Kafoury. “The Oregon Department of Human Services has predicted that these cuts could mean more children end up homeless or in our foster care system.”

“We cannot stand by and allow these cuts to happen. We urge Multnomah County residents to call or write to the governor and your state legislators. We can do better,” says Kafoury.

Working to change the debate

Staff writer, by Israel Bayer

Street Roots is actively working with a roundtable of folks to begin tracking the number of individuals who pass away on the streets. Sound simple? Not so fast. It’s one thing to collect data about people who pass away — it’s another to develop a strategy to deliver annual reports and findings from the medical examiner’s office to build a case regionally on how to leverage funding and targeted services for people experiencing homelessness. But that’s what we are setting out to do.

Street Roots has been working on this issue for the past two and a half years — from both a journalism and advocacy angle. One of the things that is unique about Street Roots is our ability to use our journalism to create change. We do not publish advocacy journalism; instead, we report the facts and specifics around a particular issue. We then use our editorials, vendor program and advocacy efforts to move a targeted issue forward. In this case, it’s counting individuals who have died on the streets.

What’s at stake? First is the dignity of the individuals who passed away and being able to recognize someone as a human being instead of a throwaway. Second is possibly millions of dollars from any number of groups, including state and federal government, health foundations, hospitals, and others who need real data to help make the case for homelessness being a health issue instead of one of public safety, as it is today. While counting people on the streets who die and being able to understand why they are dying is only one slice of the larger formula to create real change, it’s an important one.

Currently, Street Roots is working with stakeholders, including County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, the health department, the medical examiner and district attorney’s office, service providers, the city of Portland, people experiencing homelessness and others to help bring this campaign home. Our goal is to have something in place by January 2011. But there’s a lot to do between now and then, including making sure all the bureaucracies are informed and aligned and bringing on new partners for the research component.

We are cautiously optimistic that we can find a way, that we will be able to make the region a better place, and create real systematic change. Something that is at the heart of Street Roots is all about.

Having the ability to understand how many individuals are dying on the streets, and why, is something our community has been advocating in one form or another for at least two decades. With a little bit a luck, some political will, and the right partners, this time next year SR and other newspapers in the region, universities and foundations, government institutions and the general public will hopefully have an important tool to use when building a movement to end poverty on Portland’s streets.

Money, representation at stake when Census hits the streets

By Amanda Waldroupe, staff Writer

It was a dark and stormy night when Census workers went out under Portland’s bridges to count homeless people for the 2000 Census. Robert Washburn, who worked for the Census as an enumerator, or counter, in 2000, remembers that “it was a bad time to do the count,” because of how hard it was raining, but also because of the cold shoulder they received from many homeless people. “(Workers) thought they could go out there, and walk right up to those people, and expect them to answer questions,” Washburn says.

Many homeless people rebuffed the Census workers and refused to fill out the questionnaire, which asks for basic information, such as a person’s permanent address and how many people live with them. “Locally, we were naïve,” Washburn says. “We thought there would be more responsiveness than there was.” Continue reading

County’s Kafoury looks into leading charge for housing levy

From the Dec. 13 edition.

Talks expected on potential of 2010 ballot proposal

Street Roots reported in last week’s “Housing advocates consider push for housing levy” that County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury expressed strong interest in seeing something similar to Seattle’s Housing Levy on the ballot in 2010.

In an hour-long interview with Street Roots last week, she did not back down.

Kafoury says she is still interested in actively pursuing putting a bond or levy that would generate revenue for affordable housing on the ballot in 2010.

And if advocates came to Kafoury asking to be the politician leading the charge for a bond of levy campaign, Kafoury said she would be interested in hearing what they had to say.

“I’d say let’s sit and talk,” Kafoury says. Continue reading