We are thrilled to share the news with you that our emergency shelter program for families has found a new permanent home! In partnership with the Joint Office of Homeless Services (an office that coordinates resources to address homelessness from the City of Portland and Multnomah County), Human Solutions will be moving our program that supports families experiencing homelessness into a wonderful new shelter called Lilac Meadows in SE Portland, where the need is so great.

Human Solutions has been providing emergency shelter and pathways back to permanent housing for families experiencing homelessness for decades. Over the years, we have updated our programs based on best practices and an evolving understanding locally and nationally about how to best work with families experiencing homelessness so they can quickly and sustainably move forward into their own safe, affordable place to call home – something we believe everyone deserves. Stable housing is the essential first step towards long-term economic security.

Best practices for providing emergency shelter for families

To open Lilac Meadows, Multnomah County is “master leasing” an existing motel that we will update to best serve families experiencing homelessness. Human Solutions will sublease the motel from the County and operate it as a shelter. Residents of Lilac Meadows will enjoy the privacy that works best for families – something lacking in older-style mass shelters where everyone sleeps in the same room. We worked actively with the Joint Office of Homeless Services to identify a location that offers amenities families need, like a nearby park and grocery stores, access to public transit and ample parking. In this new home, we can accommodate up to 40 families at a time. Human Solutions will provide families at Lilac Meadows with caring support, help accessing community services and assistance finding and securing their next permanent home. Our program at Lilac Meadows will build on our strong track record helping families find – and keep – permanent housing. Last year, 93% of the households we helped find housing remained housed a year later!

Redeveloping the former shelter site into permanent affordable housing

You may recall that last year we decided with officials at Multnomah County to close the Human Solutions Family Center due to leaks in the ceiling at the mass shelter space. Since then, we have continued to provide shelter and services for families experiencing homelessness in area motels. When we purchased the Family Center property in 2015, our plan was to use the well-worn building as a shelter for a short-term period and then redevelop the site into badly-needed affordable housing. With the pending opening of Lilac Meadows, we have determined not to reopen the building as a shelter and are now actively planning to build a new permanent affordable housing community on that site in close collaboration with neighborhood stakeholders. Before deciding to relocate, we thoroughly assessed that space for its appropriateness to serve as an ongoing shelter and decided with the County to move forward with repurposing the site. Watch for news from Human Solutions as this project moves forward. We are very excited about the potential for this site to provide permanent homes for families experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity!

How can you help?

Our emergency shelter programs are actively supported by community members – in fact, we couldn’t do what we do without you! If you’d like to be part of this exciting opening and ongoing family shelter program, here are our top needs at the moment (stay tuned, needs change over time!):

  • Make a gift to our fundraising campaign! Human Solutions will be responsible for on-site programming for kids, three meals per day for all residents, staff training, installing garden beds, and more. Click here to donate to Human Solutions!
  • Make & serve meals. Human Solutions prides itself on providing nutritious meals for shelter residents three times a day plus an after-school snack for kids. Our amazing Volunteer and Donations Coordinator Christina is the right person to contact to learn more and sign up; reach her at volunteer@humansolutions.org.
  • Shop our Amazon Wish List. This has got to be the most effective way to donate exactly what we need! Shelter staff maintain this Wish List so you know you are donating exactly what is needed. Check it out and send what feels right to you. We’ll put it all to good use!

As we prepare to settle into our new space with resident families, we will keep you updated about progress and changing needs. THANK YOU for all that you do to lend a helping hand! The families we work with struggle against so many structural barriers put in place by a system that simply does not work for everyone.

If you would like additional information about the new shelter, please visit County’s informational page.

We deeply appreciate the incredible community support that has long been afforded to families experiencing homelessness in our area and look forward to continuing that trend as we transition to this new location.