Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative - Fall Update

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Marion County Oregon

September 28, 2017

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Behavioral Care Network hosts job fair

BCN logo

The Behavioral Care Network (BCN) is hosting a job fair for individuals seeking employment with agencies providing mental health and addictions services in Marion and Polk counties. 

October 10, 2017
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Winema Place - Chemeketa Community College
4001 Winema Place, Building 48/Room 210

This is a great opportunity for graduates, interns and experienced professionals to meet with numerous public and private sector agencies at one time. Job seekers are encouraged to bring multiple copies of their resumes. For more information, visit mvbcn.org

Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network receives homeless prevention funds

Photo of family in new home

Families facing the threat of homelessness have few resources to access in the Salem area. Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network has offered homeless parents and their children shelter and permanent housing for nearly two decades. After recognizing homelessness is a driver of lasting poverty, Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network added prevention to its continuum of services. As Executive Director T.J. Putman asserted, “Kids are better when they are in their home, rather than on the streets or in a shelter.” He believes that early intervention to prevent homelessness is the best solution for parents, children, and the community.

After being awarded $10,000 from parent organization National Family Promise, the agency successfully raised an additional $15,000 in matching funds. The flexibility of the funding, which lacks the characteristic restrictiveness of government dollars, makes it unique. Putman foresees emergency rental assistance, utility assistance, case management, and close partnerships with landlords as building blocks to prevent homelessness. Any family can be eligible for assistance, as long as they have at least one minor child.

Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network is looking for a business partner in the community that can contribute to long-term project sustainability. Interested organizations can contact Putman at tj@salemihn.org. To refer a family in need, contact the agency’s day center at (503) 370-9752.  

2017 Homeless "Point in Time" count released

Homelessness in Marion and Polk counties increased by 61% from 2016 to 2017 – according to data from the 2017 Homeless Point in Time count. This data underlines the urgency of addressing homelessness. Jimmy Jones, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency Community Resource Program Director, credits the sharp increase to both a rise in people on the streets and more effective rural outreach. Many of those captured in the 2017 numbers were homeless in previous years, but had simply never been counted.

Noteworthy statistics from the recent count include a 60% increase in homeless unsheltered females and an increase of 130 persons in emergency shelters and transitional housing from the prior year. Polk County homeless persons rose from 45 to 102, a more than 100% increase.

The count does include a critical error. The Oregon Housing and Community Services reporting system reflected zero chronically homeless individuals in the area. According to Jones, this reporting error resulted from a technical glitch, which he is working with the state to resolve. This statistic is critical to garnering additional federal and state housing funds, for which chronically homeless persons are the highest priority. Jones is hopeful that the upcoming 2018 count will continue to improve on previous years’ efforts as additional volunteers are recruited and more effectively trained. A group convened by Community Action has begun revamping the 2018 Point in Time count strategy. Those interested in participating can contact Diane Merry at diane.merry@mwvcaa.org.

The full 2017 Point In Time Count can be found on Community Action website

Efforts for runaway and homeless youth shelter underway

Photo of boy on bench

Homeless youth under the age of 18 have no place to go in the Salem area — a fact many local residents are surprised to hear. Despite several organizations aiding disadvantaged youth, no emergency shelter beds exist for minors. This means that homeless minors now must travel to Albany to access the closest shelter bed.

Unaccompanied minors become homeless for a variety of reasons. Often they have experienced violence in the home, parental substance abuse, and abandonment or rejection from their families. Without a stable home, youth have difficulty keeping up in school, lack adequate school supplies and clothing, and are at high risk further victimization while homeless. The need for a local runaway and homeless youth shelter is substantial; with Salem-Keizer school district reporting 1,150 homeless students during the 2015-16 school year and 333 runaway youth reported by Salem and Keizer police.

A work group has been formed to mobilize efforts. The group’s tasks are to identify partners, outline related services, find a shelter location, and pursue funding. Involved stakeholders thus far include Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency; Northwest Human Services;  Mano a Mano Family Center; Liberty House; Marion County Community Services, Health, and Juvenile departments and Sheriff’s Office; Bridgeway Recovery Services; Oregon Department of Human Services; and Oregon Health Authority. With broad support and concerted energy behind the issue, there are high hopes for finally creating a safe place for this area’s homeless children. Those interested in joining the effort can contact Ashley Marshall at amarshall@co.marion.or.us.