Human Solutions’ Family Center – From “Vice to Nice”
What do Human Solutions and Depave have in common? Oddly enough, a vegan strip club. In 2015, Human Solutions acquired property that previously served as a strip club and transformed it into the East Portland Family Center: a family homeless shelter serving 130 adults and children daily. This Saturday, six months after the center’s grand opening, volunteers will depave the parking lot and assist in the creation of greenspace that will serve patrons and their families. The potential of 5,000 square feet of pavement will be realized in the form of a children’s play area, a rain garden, raised garden beds, as well as other greenspace features. We’re overjoyed to work with Human Solutions, an organization that has a legacy of collaboration and partnerships across Portland.
The potential of 5,000 square feet of pavement will be realized in the form of a children’s play area, a rain garden, raised garden beds, as well as other greenspace features.
In 2014 alone, Human Solutions served over 90,000 individuals in Multnomah County. Its innovative approach to alleviating the conditions of poverty is based on a holistic view of stability – a foundation that is reflected in its wide array of services. While it began as an organization that provided low-income households with home weatherization and utility assistance, Human Solutions has greatly expanded its services, and done so in a way that maintains a strong situational awareness of the volatile conditions in which the people it serves live. Focus is placed on two main issue areas (housing and employment), with the appreciation of these factors’ interdependence and role in maintaining family stability. However, within these two issue areas exists a network of services that create a safety net for families.
Take housing insecurity, for example:
Emergency shelters, such as the East Portland Family Center, serve families in crisis. From there, Family Advocates from the Homeless Families Program ensure that families are placed in safe and affordable housing. If families already have access to this, eviction protection and utility assistance programs help them stay there. Lastly, Human Solutions invests in developing permanent affordable rental housing – a crucial role as Portland’s housing market continues to displace families across the county.
The organization’s employment programs are also robust, and focus not only on finding residents jobs, but helping them obtain living wage employment. Through CommunityWorks, Human Solutions partners with various community-based organizations to create a culturally-specific approach that transitions families off TANF, and into the workforce. These organizations, such as the International Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), and the Urban League, allow Human Solutions access to a new set of clients, many of whom would not have engaged if it weren’t for pre-existing relationships within their cultural groups.
Human Solutions’ outstanding achievements have been nationally recognized. In 2012, it received an Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award from the National Community Development Association for “exemplary use of Community Development Block Grant funds which address the needs of families, homes and neighborhoods” in its Rockwood Building.
We hope that you recognize the positive impact Human Solutions has on our community, and will come out support them as a Depave volunteer on July 30th.
Help us to, as Andy Miller (Human Solutions Executive Director) said, “convert vice to nice,” and strip this parking lot of pavement!