By: Tim Houchen
September 5, 2019 —
I might file this article under, ” What I did on summer vacation,” because a trip to Portland, Oregon to visit family in July also provided me with the opportunity to observe a city that has been impacted by homelessness for decades.
My purpose was to spend some time on the street level there and talk to some persons experiencing homelessness and find out firsthand, what is helping people there and what is not helping them. I was also in hopes of discovering an innovative program that combines specific elements that promote long-term positive outcomes for homeless persons.
To end chronic homelessness, we must work together across the public and private sectors to expand the supply of supportive housing opportunities for people with the most intensive needs and connect individuals to not just housing, but also health care, employment, behavioral health and substance abuse supports that are necessary for promoting housing stability. This is an example of an innovative community partnership between a housing developer and the health care system.
Central City Concern (CCC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency serving single adults and families in the Portland metro area who are impacted by homelessness, poverty and addictions. Founded in 1979, the agency has developed affordable housing options integrated with services including healthcare, recovery and employment.
Central City Concern has developed a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of individuals by providing them with housing, health and recovery assistance in a fully integrated way. CCC is designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center and they operate at multiple sites across the Portland area. they understand that the best results come from addressing all aspects of a person’s life. They bring together safe and supportive housing, health care, mental health, meaningful employment and peer support. A stable life begins with good physical and mental health and freedom from addictions.
Central City Concern encourage every capable client to become engaged swiftly, through volunteer activities and/or employment. Our role in Portland’s employment landscape is multi-faceted:
They place previously homeless individuals into jobs and a self-sufficient lifestyle. Their staff works with individuals one-on-one to address barriers, build skills, seize training opportunities and prepare them for meaningful employment.
Working closely with employers to ensure that they are matched with qualified, motivated and effective employees is a key to CCC’s success of getting clients into the local workforce and past clients are hired in a variety of roles at the agency, from building maintenance positions and office staff to case managers and even medical professionals.
CCC is a somewhat atypical low-income housing organization because it not only owns and manages real estate for people with low income and individuals and families experiencing homelessness (approximately 2,000 units), but also provides health and behavioral health care as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) at several sites, which include housing.