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Resources: Homelessness in the Portland Area

To prepare for the Summit/Hackathon, we’ve pulled together some helpful reading material. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and you are encouraged to explore as widely as possible. Many teams are working hard, all across the region – this is just a sampling.

Housing First – National Alliance to End Homelessness – Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life.

City of Portland – Homelessness Toolkit – State of Emergency explanation

Joint Office of Homeless Services –  Point in time report: 22 Feb 2017. The point-in-time count of homelessness in Portland and Multnomah County provides a bi-annual snapshot of the individuals and families experiencing homelessness on a given night in our community.

Principles for Digital Development – great guidelines for building anything

YIMBY Wiki for this event

Aunt Bertha – national database of services

Design Week Portland: Events: Reimagine Homelessness – Place as Platform for Living and   Homelessness is not Normal

Advocates and Activists

Right 2 Survive – dedicated to teaching about and defending the human, civil and constitutional rights of people experiencing houselessness.

Right 2 Dream 2 – recently relocated on Portland’s eastside near the Moda Center on North Hollarday Street where North Thunderbird Road and North Crosby Avenue come together.

Dignity Village – membership-based community in NE Portland, providing shelter off the streets for 60 people a night since 2001. It’s democratically self-governed with a mission to provide transitional housing that fosters community and self-empowerment– a radical experiment to end homelessness.

Hazelnut Grove – an organized homeless camp on a patchwork of public and private land in the Overlook neighborhood.

Kenton Women’s Village – a creative, collaborative year-long pilot project, offering a new potential approach for addressing houselessness at a small scale, which could be adapted and implemented in communities across the country. Designed by the Center for Public Interest Design – (CPID) is a research [+action]center at Portland State University that aims to investigate, promote, and engage in inclusive design practices that address the growing needs of underserved communities worldwid­­e.

HomePDX: We gather as community of folks who live inside and outside; share meals, hope, supplies, and ourselves; and help others.

Interfaith Alliance on Poverty – a growing network of Portland faith-based communities and congregations. We are on a common mission, working to alleviate poverty in our Portland region. They also have posted a list of resources for homeless people.

Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good (MACG) – a group of nonpartisan, proactive, everyday citizens dedicated to making the Portland Metro Area a better place for all to live and thrive.  You’ll find us working for change in churches and classrooms, in living rooms and union halls, in City Hall and in Salem.

SE Uplift – assists the citizens and neighborhood associations of Southeast Portland* to create communities that are livable, socially diverse, safe and vital. Southeast Uplift provides an organizational structure and forum to empower citizens to effectively resolve issues of livability and community development. * SE Uplift also joyfully supports Northeast neighborhoods south of I-84.

SE Works – strengthen the economic health & well-being of our diverse community by facilitating successful connections between job seekers & employers. We have a full range of services available to job seekers, employers & youth designed to strengthen our local and regional economy.

DePaul Industries – a comprehensive outsourcing specialist with eight locations in five states. We’ve been providing staffing and security services, and creating job opportunities for our employees, for more than 40 years.

Impact NW – helps people prosper through a community of support. By working with schools, businesses, faith communities, other community-based organizations and governmental agencies we create a safety net and springboard for community members to improve their quality of life and achieve independence.

StreetRoots – creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for individual and social change. See their recent article “Life after prison: Portland residents’ stories”.

Transition Projects – delivers life-saving and life-changing assistance to some of Portland’s most vulnerable residents.

Human Solutions – helping low-income and homeless families and individuals gain self-sufficiency by providing affordable housing, family support services, job readiness training and economic development opportunities.

Central City Concern – provides a unique set of resources, from housing and healthcare to peer support and employment. See their Housing is Health project.

  • CHIERS – Last year, the Sobering Program was a safe place to sober up for more than 8,400 admissions; the CHIERS van brought 2,200 admissions to the program. (“Admissions” are unduplicated with some individuals being admitted multiple times.)

Rose Haven – a sanctuary from the street, offering compassion, practical assistance and community to women and children facing loss of home, abuse and other disruptive life experiences in Portland.

Rahab’s Sisters -Our mission at Rahab’s Sisters is to offer “Radical Hospitality” to women in the Portland Metro area that have been marginalized by the sex industry, domestic violence, poverty, substance abuse, and homelessness.

Our vision is to live in the city of Portland where all women are safe from physical and sexual exploitation.

We gather on Friday nights at Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church on Southeast 82nd Avenue (between Ash and Pine), from 7pm – 10pm. We serve all women (or anyone that identifies as a woman), offering a warm safe environment with nutritious food, hot coffee, conversation, and personal hygiene necessities.

New Avenues for Youth – dedicated to the prevention and intervention of youth homelessness.

Outside In – helps homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.

Q Center – a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity, equity, visibility and community building. See their report: Nationwide more than 40% of homeless and runaway youth identify as LGBT.

P:ear –  provides 5 main areas of service to homeless youth: safe space, education, art, recreation, transition and food. These programs and services are provided by the five staff, and 120 volunteers.

JOIN – supports homeless individuals and families to transition out of homelessness into permanent housing. Their work are directed at individuals sleeping outside or in their car in the Portland Metro area.

Relay Resources Affordable Housing – creating opportunities for people to overcome barriers, achieve independence, and realize a stronger sense of purpose through training, employment, and housing.

Northwest Housing Alternatives – builds new homes and new opportunities for seniors, families, veterans and people with special needs across Oregon.

Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives – For 25 years, Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI) has reinvested in Portland’s neighborhoods, preserved their diversity and provided tools to help low-income Portland families achieve stability and self-sufficiency.

IRCO/Africa House – serves more than 5,000 community members from 22 ethnic and cultural backgrounds each year and is staffed by a multicultural team representing 17 ethnicities and speaking 10 languages.

Sisters of the Road – a nonprofit Cafe in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood working to create systemic change that will end poverty and homelessness forever by providing nourishing meals in a safe, dignified space.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Portland Council – The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a worldwide Catholic organization of laypersons whose members strive to live their faith by serving the less fortunate with love and dignity, without judgement or discrimination.

Prosper Portland – focuses on building an equitable economy, invests financial and human capital to serve the city and its residents.

Portland for Everyone – 1000 Friends of Oregon – a coalition of community organizations, individuals, and local businesses that support those land use policies that will help provide abundant, diverse & affordable housing options in all of Portland’s neighborhoods.  Check out their Blog and their article “Every month Portland’s infill rules aren’t changed, the city looks more like this” and “Cottages – a new way” – good stuff.

Portland Homeless Family Solutions – PHFS helps families experiencing homelessness move quickly back into homes. We believe that housing is a human right, and we subscribe to the Housing First Philosophy. Our Housing First Program has two components: Rapid rehousing and case management.

NW Regional Re-entry Center – (NWRRC) helps offenders make a safe and successful transition from prison to their communities. Working together with the Bureau of Prisons, United States Probation and Pretrial Services, and other community agencies, we serve up to 125 men and women in a transitional supervised environment. While in our program, these individuals are working to gain suitable employment, secure housing, and reunite with family.

Coalition of Service Providers – Clark County – The Council for the Homeless chairs the Coalition of Service Providers for the Homeless (“The Coalition”). The Coalition serves as our Continuum of Care for homeless services. It is a countywide consortium of nonprofit agencies, businesses, community groups, faith communities, and government agencies, as well as homeless and formerly homeless people. It is a strategic planning body that coordinates homeless services in our area and serves as a mechanism for service providers within the CoC to apply jointly for funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The group is led by the CoC Steering Committee.

Harbor of Hope – Our strategy provides a rapid response to people living on the streets. It seeks to prioritize unmet needs to avoid duplicating services that already exist. The service design of this model is a very different approach and has a proven track record in other cities with similar strategies.



National and Global News

The Guardian“Outside in America Series: On the frontline of the homelessness crisis in the western US”.

The Guardian“Bussed out – How America Moves its Homeless” – Has very informative graphics.

Mother Jones“The shockingly simple, surprisingly cost-effective way to end homelessness“. Housing First success in Utah.

Urban Institute“One in Four: America’s Housing Assistance Lottery”

Urban Institute – “Homeless on the Home Front: A Demonstration Program Shows Promise for Ending Veterans’ Homelessness”

Little Free Libraries – Yes! Magazine

Local News

Portland TribuneA listing of articles on homelessness.

Portland TribuneAffordable housing unit costs questioned

Portland TribuneWhen inmates leave prison, the battle to stay out begins (2015) – Over half the prisoners released from Oregon prisons are released to homelessness, according to a recent report.

The OregonianA listing of articles on homelessness.

OregonLive – Tiny house village being built for homeless veterans in Clackamas

OregonLiveMetro weighs affordable housing bond

Willamette WeekA listing of articles on homelessness.

Oregon Public BroadcastingA listing of programs on homelessness.

The SkannerHomeless Deaths in County Reached 80 in Recent Review

Eugene Register-Guard – Lessons, ideas focus of Register-Guard forum on homelessness Community event reflects on newspaper’s yearlong project – (18 Jan 2018)

Reports, Maps and Data

Portland MapsResidential Infill Project Map. A look at innovative ways to allow additional units that complement the scale of single-dwelling neighborhoods by reducing the maximum size allowed for houses, increasing housing choices, and implementing improvements to narrow lot development.

Yes MagazineHow Tenants Use Digital Mapping to Track Bad Landlords and Gentrification

ACLU – Decriminalizing Homelessness – 2017

City of Portland Severe Weather Shelters Map – a collective effort between the City of Portland Bureau of Technology Services Corporate GIS group, the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office.

Homeless Shelter Directory (see national map of resources) – a listing of homeless shelters and services for the needy. – Oregon 2017 report

Zombie Houses  – Empty houses in Portland (report, 2016)


Welcome Home – working to build back our affordable housing infrastructure with at least 63,000 homes affordable to Portland Metro area families. We know that with adequate and dedicated public funding we can restore balance to housing opportunity so that all families can succeed with a safe, stable and affordable home.

Joint Office of Homeless Services – established in 2016 to oversee the delivery of services to people experiencing homelessness in Multnomah County. The office represents a shared commitment between Multnomah County and the City of Portland to making services easier to access for those in need. Lots of news on this site.

City of Portland – Home Forward – The Housing Authority of Portland (Home Forward’s original name) was created by the Portland City Council on December 11, 1941: “Conceived during the Great Depression and born at the start of World War II, Home Forward, then known as the Housing Authority of Portland, quickly became a national symbol of hope, creating housing for 72,000 people in our first two years of existence: more than any public agency in the country.”

City of Portland –  State of Emergency explanation

City of Portland – Affordable Housing Construction Excise Tax (CET)

Metro Regional Government articles and information about homelessness, plus a poll results finding “Making housing more affordable is among top public concerns”

National (and other states)

The Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness (University of Denver) provides assistance in research, policy analysis, program evaluation, technical assistance, and data dissemination. We help those committed to addressing the issue of homelessness – including service providers, practitioners, organizations, local and state government, and foundations – review policies, assess and measure impact, determine best use of resources, and use evidence and data to enhance existing programs as well as inform future policies, services, and efforts.

Center for Community Change – Housing Trust Funds – Housing trust funds are distinct funds established by city, county or state governments that receive ongoing dedicated sources of public funding to support the preservation and production of affordable housing and increase opportunities for families and individuals to access decent affordable homes.

Continuum of Care – A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. In 2007, 461 CoCs submitted application for federal homeless assistance funds in all 50 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. CoCs represent communities of all kinds, including major cities, suburbs and rural areas.

In Detroit (video): Tiny house village (land is cheap there…)


World Economic Forum – Digital tools to build a better world.

Emergency Housing Structures

Just a sampling of what’s out there. Lets build this resource!

Tent City Urbanism – book by Andrew Heben

Hexayurts – Free hardware housing for the world.


Ikea Flat Pack  – 17.5-square-meter shelters can sleep a family of five; galvanized steel frames with recyclable polymer plastic walls and lockable doors. Rooftop solar panel charges the indoor LED lamp and a USB port capable of charging mobile phones.

Better Shelter – Support displaced families on their journey home.

Rainier Yurts – Rainier’s roots go back to the Alaskan Gold Rush. Founded in 1896, and began building yurts in 2004.

Shipping Containers – Nearly 60,000 people experience homelessness on a given night in Los Angeles County, a 23% increase from last year.

Apps and Software

Aunt Bertha – A national database of services, with powerful search, sort filter, save, etc. – Our central hub empowers Oregon and Southwest Washington communities by helping people identify, navigate and connect with the local resources they need.

Homelessness Toolkit – City of Portland collection of resources, maps and information.

YIMBI wiki – a knowledge base for YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) and housing issues; to gather ideas, research, and strategies for creating more inclusive, affordable, equitable housing and communities. An affiliate project of  YIMBY Action, which is a member of the SFYIMBY coalition, San Francisco.

Link-SF – Link-SF is San Francisco’s first mobile-optimized website that connects homeless and low-income residents with critical and life-saving resources nearby. Focusing on basic services such as food, shelter, medical care, hygiene services, and technology access… GitHub.

Share examples if you have them.

Hackathons for Social Good is supported by WebVisions, a nationally recognized event that explores the future of Web and mobile design, technology, user experience and business strategy.