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Homelessness: Working Together to Solve One of Portland’s Biggest Issues

by Karlie Watts | Dec 18, 2018

Portland is known regionally, nationally and even internationally for many wonderful attributes. Our quirky and fun culture, our world-class restaurants, “foodie” lifestyle and breathtaking scenery, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, Portland is also becoming known for our growing homeless crisis. People sleeping outdoors have become increasingly visible throughout our community. Currently, most reports place the number of people who are suffering from homelessness in Portland at between 4,000 and 5,000.

Of course, the large amount of our citizens living with substandard shelter or no shelter whatsoever is made even more terrible by the fact that winter is mere days away, and we’ve already experienced our first below-freezing nights this past couple of weeks. For men, women and children without safe shelter, this time of year can be painful, and sometimes even deadly. Pneumonia, frostbite and hypothermia are just a few of the dangers affecting those suffering from homelessness in our community.

That is one of the reasons why the Portland Rescue Mission is thrilled to be a partner with Columbia Bank and the Warm Hearts Winter Drive. The program, which provides direct monetary support and warm clothing to the Portland Rescue Mission – and many other organizations – is one of the best ways businesses and citizens can have a direct impact at providing aid and support.

Portland Rescue Mission provides 24/7, year-round services to men, women and children suffering from hunger, homelessness and addiction. Successfully addressing these critical needs in our area takes a consistent and multi-dimensional strategy that includes all elements of the community. Columbia Bank's Warm Hearts Winter Drive is a great example of a business seizing the opportunity to engage directly with Portland Rescue Mission and help make a real difference in the lives of those in severe need in our community. Their generous partnership provides for thousands of meals, shelter-nights and compassionate care during the cold winter months.

What’s more, the support from programs like Warm Hearts allows our organization to do more than provide instant relief. The Mission exists to both help address immediate needs AND to also help break the cycle of homelessness. When someone in need comes to our doors, we can provide assistance that can help them move past homelessness. Three critical programs we offer include:

  • CONNECT: a three- to six-month program to help men and women transition to housing and employment
  • THE HARBOR: a year-long program providing men with addiction recovery, life skills training and employment assistance
  • SHEPHERD’S DOOR: a program for women and children that provides the same services as The Harbor in addition to daycare, parenting and family reunification services

In all of these cases, the partnership between the Portland Rescue Mission and our donors is a collaboration to solve an immediate crisis AND to find a long-term and sustainable solution.

So, on behalf of the hundreds of men and women we are helping each day onto a better path, please consider partnering with Columbia Bank and the Warm Hearts Winter Drive. Together, we can help Portland become known around the world as a community that addresses the homeless crisis with life-changing compassion.

Eric Bauer, Executive Director
Portland Rescue Mission



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