We’re building more housing & other news

I hope you are staying dry in September’s unseasonably wet weather! I just closed down my garden for the season – including harvesting my first ever homegrown acorn squash and making two big batches of Mama Miller’s Tomato Bolognese! As we turn to fall here at Human Solutions, we have some very exciting news to share. Thanks for taking a few moments out of your day to connect with our work – we’re always grateful that you are a part of it.


Human Solutions is thrilled to have received a competitive award of $13.9 million in funding from the City of Portland’s Housing Bond to redevelop the site of our former Family Center at SE 161st & Stark. When we purchased the building and site in 2015, our long-term goal was to build affordable apartments for families struggling to make ends meet amidst rapidly rising rents in East County. We are already in pre-development to make that dream come true.

A key component of our vision for this site is a partnership with LifeWorks NW, a very experienced behavioral health provider that will provide onsite services for residents. The combination of deeply affordable housing and relevant support services will help people transition out of homelessness. This kind of permanent supportive housing is a nationally-recognized model that has been proven to end chronic homelessness. Pictured here at the official announcement of these exciting awards in Portland City Hall is our team, along with LifeWorks NW Executive Director Mary Monnat. We will of course share details with you as this project progresses. The Oregonian covered the exciting news here.


We’re very excited about our fall speaker event. Register now to join us on October 17th for new perspectives on how we think about and respond to poverty in our community. Mia Birdsong gave a TED Talk on poverty in 2015 that went viral. We’re bringing her to Portland to have a critical community conversation about the way we see poverty in our culture – and why it matters. This is an opportunity to open our minds, explore our biases, and learn to see our community in powerful new ways. Plus: it’s hosted and there’s food! What are you waiting for!?! Register here. Spread the word on Facebook here.


This summer our shelter team (pictured here) worked incredibly hard to ready a new space for families experiencing homelessness. Since opening the doors at Lilac Meadows, we have been gradually ramping up to full capacity, when we will have 40 families in residence. We love our new space because it allows families the privacy of a motel room but the community and one-on-one support it takes to find stable housing and begin to recover from the trauma of homelessness. Many of our shelter staff have experienced homelessness themselves, which is so important to our ability to connect with and support residents in crisis. Their extra effort to make our new location shine really shows. Thanks, team! We’re proud of all they have accomplished.


Portland State University recently created a Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative that has been adding a lot of good information and thinking to the issue, for which we are grateful. Shortly after our local Joint Office of Homeless Services released our local 2019 Point-In-Time count, this new Collaborative released a more comprehensive data set and analysis with some recommendations for a path forward, including exciting new potential funding tools that could put real solutions within reach. Check it out if you’re curious about the scope of the problem and some ideas for solutions; there’s also a quick article summarizing key points.


While redlining is no longer legal (thank you, Fair Housing Act), its impacts are very visible in how our cities remain racially segregated. Redlining is widely credited with creating the significant wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in the United States. You’ve heard of compound interest; we can think of redlining as compound racism that has severely restricted access to wealth building opportunities (like homeownership) over time, leading to the extreme racial wealth gaps we see and experience today.

This article from The Root, Redlining: The Origin Story of Institutional Racism, explains the historical practice and present-day implications for African Americans. As its author writes, “Redlining was outlawed in 1968 by the Fair Housing Act, but it still affects almost every economic aspect of black communities to this day.” And to bring it closer to home, check out the Fair Housing Council of Oregon’s information and tours about racial discrimination in housing (highlighted here in Forbes magazine).


In early 2019, the Oregon State Legislature passed Senate Bill 608 to better protect tenants from displacement. The new law (effective since 2/19) places an annual cap on rent increases statewide and expands Portland’s protections against no-cause evictions to the entire state. Creating a law is just the first step, though; getting the word out is essential and takes effort. Our terrific partners at the Oregon Housing Alliance have helpful information on their web site, plus we really like this short video in English and Spanish that boils it down well.


We have two commercial spaces for rent in the heart of Rockwood on the ground floor of our Rockwood Multi-Service Center   

  1. A fully functional commercial kitchen with appliances included and office space in approximately 1,050 square feet.
  2. Fully outfitted childcare facility with approximately 4,250 square feet already built out to spec for children ages 3-5, with three classrooms, an enclosed outdoor play space, office space and a secure door to the rest of the building.

Both spaces are available now. Please call Mike Malone (503) 972-8609 or email mike.malone@am.jll.com for more information. Other current tenants in the Rockwood MSC are social service providers: Human Solutions Inc., Wallace Medical Concern and Metropolitan Family Services.




Andy Miller, Executive Director

PS – Inspired by what we’re doing? We will gratefully accept your online donation here: https://ourjustfuture.org/giving/ (thank you!!)