April eNews: Stay Connected to Your Community

Hello Friend of Human Solutions,

I sincerely hope that you and yours are staying healthy in these unusual and challenging times. The team at Human Solutions is working hard to keep our operations strong while continuing to meet the needs of our community, which are growing and evolving daily. As an essential provider of safety net services in East Portland and Multnomah County for 31 years, we understand how important our role is right now to help people access old and new resources to get back on their feet. Helping the most oppressed people in our community with housing and economic security has always been our reason for being.

In  these most unusual times, our team is working around the clock to keep our housing and economic security programs and our emergency shelters up and running while also meeting public health directives to practice social distancing. We’re retooling, as we know you are.

In fact, every one of our programs is still running, some with modifications and others with full pivots to do the more pressing work of the moment. A few examples:

    • Our after-school program cannot meet in person but is supporting parents with virtual learning resources and distributing food (which is especially important with schools closed).
    • Our career coaches are providing unemployment assistance to support those who have lost jobs in recent weeks to understand and access benefits.
    • Our emergency shelters – where 200+ women and families stay every night – are tracking residents’ health and relocating folks when needed, cleaning to new standards, and still working actively with participants to find permanent housing.
    • We are tracking and interpreting the new renter protections and federal assistance programs to share with residents of our 17 affordable housing communities.

Working  During COVID: Remote  & On Site    

While our administrative team and many of our service providers are able to work from home per Governor Brown’s request (see photo), our incredible shelter team remains on the front lines, providing a safe place for women and families experiencing homelessness in our two emergency shelters and now Multnomah County’s temporary shelter for women, too. We applaud their commitment and ask that if you are clanging pots and pans at 7 PM to thank front-line workers, you include those working with our homeless population, too.

Can Help Us Raise $25,000 to Earn a Match?

Right now we are asking our supporters – that’s you! – to help us reach the goal of raising $25,000 by May 2 to recover lost gala revenue.

It feels like at least a year ago that we decided to postpone our annual gala and auction fundraiser from May 2, 2020 to May 8, 2021, but in reality it was only several weeks (time is funny these days). We’re more than disappointed that we can’t spend the evening with you, but we’re even more concerned about the lost revenue that we were counting on to help fund our programming, which feels more essential by the day. Click here to contribute now.

The world may feel as if it has stopped, but Human Solutions hasn’t. Thank you in advance for investing in our community right now by making a donation to Human Solutions. Any amount helps!

Do You Have Stuff We Need?

Our shelters always depend on the caring and generosity of our community to offer the things residents need to feel at home. And now is no different! We are gladly accepting drop-off donations – here’s what’s topping our list this month:

  • Hair products (any kind!)
  • Hair combs
  • Disposable razors
  • Deodorant
  • Bath towels (new or gently used)
  • Sewing kits (individual size/mending)
  • Hand-sewn masks
  • Meals!

If you are inspired to donate any of these items or deliver a meal, please contact Shawna, our awesome volunteer & donations coordinator: 503.278.1637 or volunteer@humansolutions.org.

Government, Non-Profit & Small Businesses Working Creatively Together

We are so pleased with the creative partnership inspired by the need to feed our shelter residents and keep local restaurants in business. Our friends at The Rosewood Initiative, a wonderful community-focused partner in our area, sought funding from Prosper Portland to pay small, neighborhood restaurants to prepare and deliver food to our shelters, where about 150 people eat three times daily. This is such a win-win for our community, meeting multiple needs at once. One thing for sure: we’re all in this together.

In normal times, local restaurants are incredibly generous to Human Solutions, giving often to feed those with less. Starbucks, Addy’s Sandwiches, White Pepper, Hungry Heart PDX, De Leon’s and Joy Teriyaki are but a few. We appreciate you all!

VOTE YES in May: Homeless Services Ballot Measure Is Imperative!

We are all doing what we can to cope during this difficult time. And for the thousands of people living in the greater Portland metro region without a safe, stable home to shelter in, this pandemic has dealt a major blow.

The need for additional resources to address chronic homelessness in our region was urgent last year when we started this campaign; it is now imperative. But here’s the good news: we already know what services work, and we have a chance to bring those services to scale on May 19th by voting YES on Measure 26-210.

If passed, this measure will help struggling renters stay housed with services funded through a cash infusion of $250 million per year—raised through a 1% tax on businesses that gross $5 million or more in annual sales, and another 1% tax on individuals who earn more than $125,000 or couples earning more than $250,000.

This investment in supportive housing services has only become more crucial in light of the current economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has closed the doors of hundreds of small businesses. If passed, the ballot measure would not impact small struggling companies—rather it would tax larger businesses that continue to turn a profit, as well as individuals and households that continue to earn high incomes.

Measure 26-210 will ensure critical homeless services in our region have the funding needed to match the scale of the problem without placing a burden on low-and middle-income families. Add your name to HereTogether’s list of supporters today so we can focus our resources on others we still need to reach.

It’s not too late to register to vote!

Good News! You can register to vote in Oregon until April 28, 2020 to vote in the May election. Learn more and register here. At Human Solutions, we believe in making it as easy as possible for everyone to participate in elections so their voice is heard in this important democratic process. Pass it on!

A Just & Equitable 2020 Census —Have You Completed Yours Yet?

Every 10 years, the government counts our communities to determine how much money to give our state and local governments for services and resources. Being counted also correlates to political representation in Congress. It’s important that we’re all counted so we don’t get less than we need for Oregon. The “We Count Oregon” campaign is an excellent source of information in many languages to explain the importance of the Census effort. #WeCountOregon is a community-led effort working to ensure that every Oregonian- especially those considered hard-to-count complete the 2020 Census. Hard-to-count communities include people of color, children under five, renters, immigrants, people with limited English proficiency, multiple-family homes, Native tribal and urban communities, disabled people, and LGBTQ individuals. It’s critical that ALL Oregonians are counted, remain visible, and participate in our democracy.

Not completed the Census yet? No time like the present: https://2020census.gov/

Girl Scouts Share Cookies & Earnings with Human Solutions

For the second year in a row, the Cadettes of Girl Scout Troop 45210 donated all their Gift of Caring boxes to Human Solutions to share with residents in our emergency shelters. They’ll be donating a special dinner (with ice-cream and GS cookies for dessert, of course!) as one of their service projects in the coming months. Right now the girls have more than 50 boxes of cookies to bring in and donate, but that’s not all. Every box of Girl Scout cookies they sold this spring helped fund their special dinner. Thanks, girls!

Things can feel pretty dark right now, so it feels good ending on a hopeful note of community. We have seen such an outpouring of support during this crisis, from funds to grant flexibility to meals to busy sewing machines and beyond. While we remain sober about the challenges ahead for so many of us, we also feel the strength of our community coming together, showing us that there is a way forward and it is already brighter because we have each other.

Everyone at Human Solutions is grateful for our incredible community- thanks for being part of it,

Andy Miller, Executive Director

PS – If you are able, please consider a donation to bring us closer to our $25,000 goal.