What a weekend of winter weather that was! I hope that you made it through alright with the power outages, falling trees and ice, and freezing temps for those living outside. If you aren’t already aware of Multnomah County’s winter weather shelter system – which depends on volunteers – you can get familiar here so you know how it works next time (and sign up to volunteer your time or donate needed items). Key Fact: when the county declares a severe-weather event, free rides to a severe-weather shelter are available for those living outside.

Despite the weather, Team Human Solutions has a lot going on to share with you, including news about our next housing community, an upcoming event that we hope you’ll attend, opportunities to cook for our shelters, and some interesting updates and thinking about our local homeless crisis. Something for everyone!

You Were So Generous During the Holidays

On a solid green background, text reads, Since COVID-19 entered our lives about a year ago, our community has been incredibly generous with both their time and resources. We have been inspired by the clear commitment of those holding steady to make sure that others have what they need when illness, job loss and related challenges strike. As you likely know, our service area is East Portland, Gresham and East Multnomah County: areas with high poverty rates, rich cultural diversity, and a lot of frontline jobs. THANKS to every one of you who has contributed something in these times – you know who you are.  Some accomplishments we can be proud of together:

  • More than 500 of you contributed $175,000 over the holidays to fund our work in the community. Thanks to such strong community support, we have been able to help more families keep up with their rent and utility bills and have the funds they need to keep food on the table and meet other basic needs during the pandemic so they can stay safe, healthy and free from fear of hunger.
  • We gathered 50 boxes of needed items for our three emergency shelters through our first-ever COVID-safe, outdoor Living Giving Tree, including diapers and wipes, hygiene items, slippers and socks, hats and scarves, and coats for kids and adults, among other things. Thank you, shoppers!
  • You fed the 220 residents in our emergency shelters on 25 days (that’s 5,500 individual meals!) through our fun and successful community drop-off potlucks. You should have seen – and smelled – the delicious spreads on Thanksgiving Day! Sharing food nurtures the soul of eater and chef alike. :-)

Save the Date: Our Virtual Gala Isn’t One to Miss

In front of a drawing of the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz, text reads

We had a super fun night planned for May 2020 but rescheduled for 2021 when COVID-19 hit. While we figured that after a year we would be able to gather again in person, here we are still Zooming together instead to stay safe. Just because we’re going virtual doesn’t mean we won’t have a ball and raise the essential funds to run our programs for another year. In fact, we have an interesting program planned for you, drawing on our theme, “There’s No Place Like Home.” Since March 2020, home has taken on a new meaning for many of us, since we’ve been somewhat relegated there. Of course for so many others, they still don’t have one, or are on the verge of losing theirs.

We hope you’ll SAVE THE DATE on Friday, May 7th from 5:30 – 6 :45 PM to be with us for this important evening where we will come together to support the community we all call home. We’ll circle back as it gets closer with more information.

New Housing Community: The Nick Fish is Open for Applications Now!

An architectural rendering shows the eventual Nick Fish building, with clean lines and Despite COVID-19, construction has been on time for our newest housing community – The Nick Fish Apartments – in East Portland’s Gateway neighborhood. This opens 75 mixed-income units for folks at all income levels to move in this March! Human Solutions’ new anchor office is located right next door, with a COVID-safe move-in scheduled over the next few months. Rental information for the Nick Fish is available on the community’s website, and interested folks can also call 503.548.0220 to learn more about rents and how to apply.

This new community also has room for small businesses, so if you know or are a small-business person looking for a brick-and-mortar opportunity in a great new building in a thriving neighborhood, reach out to Sarah Schubert, our Housing Director, for more info.

Like to Cook? Have We Got An Opportunity for You!

A photo shows wrapped gifts on a background of dark wood. Text reads, One thing folks are doing a lot of right now with so many restaurants closed is cooking at home (like it or not, right?!). We hope you’ll consider sharing some of your home-cooked goodness with residents at our three emergency shelters. We are hosting what we call drop-off community potlucks, where you sign up to bring a dish for 12 and drop it at a shelter during the designated time. It’s a great way to contribute, and you should see the incredible meals people create together, from their own kitchens!

It’s easy to find a date and location that works for you on our online calendar. The gist is you find the right date for you, then follow the link to the SignUpGenius where you can decide what to bring and add your name. Residents love the variety and appreciate knowing that folks care enough about them to bring food. Sharing food is a powerful connector, and connected communities are what we’re going for!

Questions? Call Brielle on 971.806.7759 or email potluck@humanso​lutions.org.

Solving Homelessness Locally: What’s the Latest?

Over a photo of a folded newspaper, text reads, This recent article and event recording from the League of Women Voters of Portland are both quite enlightening about the current housing and homelessness crises and how we can solve them.

  • You’ll recall that Metro voters passed a significant bond measure in spring 2020 to fund services for folks experiencing homelessness; this article offers an update as to how local governments and service providers, like Human Solutions, are planning to put the first round of this new funding into action to help end our homelessness crisis. This thorough article in The Oregonian will bring you up to date: Portland-area counties enjoy wide latitude as they ponder how to spend homelessness services tax.

I was honored to participate recently in a League of women Voters’ forum, From Houselesss to Housing, sharing the stage with several others to share thoughts about how we can best solve this humanitarian crisis. You’ll hear from Marc Jolin of the City-County Joint Office of Homeless Services and Jeff Riddle of Transition Projects, who shares his lived experiences and the perspective of how a service provider helped him fulfill his dream to own a home. Powerful story. You can hear it all on the LWV’s web page.

Thank you, as always, for reading with interest and being part of the Human Solutions family. These days, it couldn’t be clearer that we all need each other. Stay warm, stay safe, and let’s keep taking care of each other.