August eNews: Lots happening @ Human Solutions!

This month has been a whirlwind of activity here at Human Solutions – including a visit from Mayor Wheeler to our awesome after-school program, planning for our inspiring fall speaker, and a robust community conversation about homelessness – among much else! Happily, we were still able to find time to gather for an all-staff picnic last week to connect with each other in a beautiful place and honor our team for their tremendous work every day. Here’s the full scoop:

Come Listen to Mia Birdsong Reframe Poverty

We’re very excited to open registration for our fall speaker event. Be sure to save the date! Mia Birdsong gave a TED Talk in 2015 that went viral. We’re bringing her to Portland to address a topic that is at the heart of what we do and who we are: poverty and how people view those who experience it. This is an opportunity to open our minds, explore our biases and learn to see things in new ways. Plus: it’s free and there’s food! What are you waiting for!?! Register here (it’s free but space is limited). Spread the word on Facebook here.


We’re Concerned About the Proposed Change in the Public Charge Rule

As you may be aware, the Trump Administration has been moving a policy change through the rulemaking process that could go into effect this fall related to how we determine when an immigrant is considered a “public charge” and denied entry (here’s a nice overview of the concept). Human Solutions does NOT support the shift and believes it to be harmful to our immigrant neighbors – whom we welcome with open arms. We rely on expert organizations like the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) to guide us, and want to share their tools to help others understand what’s at stake and how to respond. A quick overview from them:

“On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule related to public charge in the Federal Register. The rule will not take effect until October 15, 2019. Additionally, many organizations have indicated they will file lawsuits challenging the legality of the rule. Thus, even after publication, legal challenges could delay implementation.

The new rule has created confusion and fear in our communities. Because it is very difficult to understand who might be impacted, many immigrant families have decided to disenroll or refuse enrolling in programs that are necessary to survive and thrive. Many immigrants remain exempt from this public charge rule and many immigrants continue to be eligible for various programs.” 

We encourage you to learn more from the ILRC here and share where needed. Human Solutions believes that this kind of anti-immigrant fear mongering is neither good for our community nor true to our values as a nation. We oppose this new policy.

We Hosted a Community Conversation on Homelessness

Earlier this month we hosted a gathering for members of our community to learn, ask questions and share their thoughts about the humanitarian crisis of homelessness in our area. We welcomed 55 people into a productive discussion where we shared personal experiences, considered how our humanity works in this moment, and tried to grasp the enormity of the causes that led us here – and how we might solve them. Our goal is to discuss both the practical how-tos and the big picture questions that we’re all grappling with. We are considering where to host our next one – stay tuned!

Homelessness Isn’t the Crisis You Think It Is

This is a powerful opinion piece by Marisa Zapata, an associate professor at PSU who directs the Homeless Research and Action Collaborative. What resonates with us is her focus on the underlying systems that are broken and her insistence that if we don’t turn our attention to those systems we won’t – can’t – end homelessness.

“To truly stop homelessness, we need to fix the long-term systemic issues that lead to it in the first place. We need universal rights to safe and quality housing and universal health care so no one is forced to choose between buying insulin and making rent. We need major criminal justice reform that does not sentence people to life on the streets and an overhaul of how we support those with addiction and major mental illnesses so recovery is possible for everyone. We need stronger protections for historically marginalized communities so your ZIP code, gender identity or skin color doesn’t dictate your future.”

Hear, hear

Mayor Wheeler Shopped at Our Young Entrepreneur’s Market

Home-made stress balls, snow cones and ice-cream sundaes are just the start of the fastest-growing farmers market in Portland –hosted by youth in Human Solutions’ LearnLinks after-school and summer program! After conducting market research on a field trip to Saturday Market in downtown Portland, the students opened their own stands at Lincoln Woods, one of our 17 affordable housing communities. Together they earned almost $200, Portland Mayor Wheeler was among the shoppers! Human Solutions aims to level the playing field for youth from low-income families, and our LearnLinks program is one way we are doing that.

Annual Staff Picnic @ Blue Lake Regional Park

Every summer we gather our whole 130-person team for an afternoon of connection, celebration and thanks. Human Solutions staff work hard every day in often challenging circumstances, so making time to honor their work and eat a meal together is gratifying. We work out of six locations, so bringing everyone together is tricky but really important to foster teamwork and create a workplace where we know each other as whole people. Plus, it’s way more fun and effective to work with folks you know. We shared a LOT of photos on Facebook (which you can peruse here). ‘Til next year!

2019 Point-In Time Homelessness Count Was Released

Every other year the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) requires communities that receive its funds to conduct a one-night count of people the department defines as homeless. Multnomah County completed its count in January and released the findings this summer. You’ll find the report here, including a new online dashboard. We invite you to get our (short) take here. Key caution: the data is useful, but typically results in undercounts and does not produce a full picture of homelessness in our community.

THANK YOU for your ongoing interest in and support of our work in the community. If you have any questions for us or would like to learn more about what we are doing, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our main line is 503.548.0200 or you can email our Communications & Development Director, Lisa Frack.