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America, not just Portland is dealing with a homeless crisis. The reality is no one aspires to live on the streets. The reasons men, women and children are living on our streets are as diverse as the people themselves.
Solutions For Our Homeless by Jack Kerfoot
Cities across America are trying different programs to help our homeless with varying degrees or success. Cities that focus on providing low income housing seldom meet the diversity of needs for the homeless.
Portland has literally hundreds of uncoordinated nonprofits organizations attempting to help our homeless. The lack of coordination and collaboration between the city, nonprofits and faith-based organization is adding to the growing homeless problem.
Are there real solutions to help our homeless in Portland? The answer is yes, if our city elects effective leaders! First, our city can and should take the lead in the coordination and collaboration of the hundreds of nonprofit and faith-based groups working to help our homeless.
Second, our city can work with the private sector, nonprofits and faith-based organizations to develop a long-term strategy for our homeless. In 2010, the city of San Antonio, Texas brought the private sector, nonprofits and faith-based organizations together to develop a long-term strategy for the homeless, that resulted in the development of "Haven for Hope." Today, Haven for Hope is recognized as one of, if not the best program to help the homeless in America.
In Portland, the nonprofit, "Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers" has recently begun work to open the Bybee Lakes Hope Center in September 2020. The nonprofit's mission is to provide a helping hand to a sustainable life through resources, recovery and re-entry. Helping Hands, founded in 2004 has successfully developed programs for the homeless in Clatsop, Tillamook, Yamhill and Lincoln counties in Oregon.
Recently, I met with Raven Russell, Director of Data and Major Projects for Bybee Lakes Hope Center. Raven explained that Helping Hands' programs are designed to help an individual or family experiencing homelessness, identify what went wrong and develop effective solutions. Helping Hands offers an integrated program for each person, similar to the renowned, Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas. The annual operating cost for Bybee Lakes Hope Center is estimated to be approximately $4.5 million per year which is being paid by faith-based organizations and individual contributors.
Portland city government has repeatedly failed to effectively use millions in property tax dollars to address our city's growing homeless problem. The Metro Council is now proposing to raise approximately $200 million per year from a 1% tax on people who earn over $125,000 per year. The Metro Council's proposal is for services for those with addiction and mental illness. As with most hundred-million-dollar local government proposals, there are precious few details and no data to demonstrate why the program will actually help our homeless.
If Bybee Lakes Hope Center proves to be a viable project, then the city should look to replicate this type of facility across Portland. It is time we had leadership in our city council that will critically evaluate proposals to spend your hard-earned money.
If you agree with me and want to see our city find real solutions to our homeless crisis, please consider adding your name to my list of public supporters for my campaign.
Together we can find solutions to the issues facing our city. Thank you for reading this blog and thank you for your support.
This article was reprinted with permission from Jack Kerfoot. Jack is a candidate for Portland Commissioner.
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