Rotary Club of Portland: Service Above Self


An Update from the Homeless Task Force

Likely many of you know that in our club’s proud 105 year history, we have often asked ourselves “what can we do for our community today?” and then we’ve taken action.  We have in our history commissioned projects ranging in size from $11,000 to $11,000,000.  We have a long history of coming together to make a big difference on matters of social justice in our community.

Today we are responding to the strong need we are all perceiving in the issue of homelessness in our community.  President Agustin commissioned a task force to take a deep dive on this topic, for the purpose of exploring what we can do for our community today.  

We began meeting in September, once a month on the first Tuesday of each month after our club meeting at 1:30 in the afternoon.  The purpose of our meetings is for our task force members to take in the scope of this issue, what is already being done about it, with a goal to formulate a proposal for what our club might do to take action.  

For example, last month we learned from Sean Hubert at Central City Concern that their biggest challenge is funding the work they do in employment readiness for their clients.  

In September, Marc Jolin joined us from a “Home for Everyone” which is a community-wide effort to house homeless Multnomah County citizens by making smart investments in the areas of housing, income, survival, emergency services, health, access to services and systems coordination.  Marc shared with us a January 2015 point in time count of the homeless in our community that helped us get a sense of the scale of this issue.  Did you know that 3,800 of our neighbors are living without homes?

Today, we’re hearing from Rob Justus of Home Forward Development about an alternative approach to affordable housing development that is truly affordable.  Did you know that the cost/door of typical public housing projects is close to $200,000?  Rob’s approach comes closer to $75,000.  Today, we’re also hearing from Shannon Singleton, Executive Director of JOIN since March of this year.  Shannon has extensive experience working with our homeless friends. We are very excited to have Shannon share with us JOIN’s ongoing mission to make homelessness a short term circumstance vs. a chronic condition. 

Next month, we’ll be learning what New Avenues for Youth is doing to support foster children experiencing a gap in support as they enter adulthood.  

Each time we meet, we’re challenging ourselves to think big and to generate ideas to complete the sentence “what if our club did this to address this…what if our club did that to address this…”

We’ll be meeting like this each first Tuesday at 1:30 in the Rotary Office.  We’d welcome anyone to join us, even if just for one meeting. 

If you can’t make any of the meetings, you are also welcome to join our LinkedIN Group wherein we will be posting relevant articles and reports, discussions about what we’re learning, together.  Help us answer the question “what if our club…”


Categories: News