The Current State of Homelessness in Portland
More Oregonians than ever before are being pushed to the streets as they struggle to make ends meet. Unfortunately, the newly unhoused are not a priority for public affordable housing because they have not been homeless for long enough. That means hundreds of individuals and families will be needlessly exposed to the trauma of homelessness.
- The 2019 Point in Time (PIT) count showed that between 2017 and 2019, the number of people sleeping outside increased by 22%. On any given night, there were 4,015 unhoused people in Multnomah County of whom more than half were unsheltered and sleeping outdoors. More than 2,000 people were sleeping in a tent, in a vehicle, in an abandoned building, under an overpass, in a park, or on the sidewalk with little more than a blanket and a tarp. Another 2,000 were in overnight shelters. That was the largest recorded number of individuals living unsheltered in our region’s history.
- In the same report, we learned that the overrepresentation of people of color in our houseless population continues to increase, especially among those who identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander, and Black or African American.
- People of color made up 29.5% of the county’s general population and 38.1% of our houseless population. Although we do not have a PIT count in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has reportedly increased substantially. Nearly 1/3 of those counted (an increase of 35% since 2017) were unhoused for the first time, and we expect that number will continue to grow rapidly once the eviction moratorium in the state is lifted this year.
At Catholic Charities, we understand how to ensure lasting success for those at risk of experiencing houselessness or for those who are transitioning from houselessness into permanent housing—nearly one in five of our existing clients rate imminent risk of homelessness as their greatest concern. By providing deeply affordable housing plus wraparound services to fit the unique needs of each resident, we will be able to intervene early to prevent homelessness and the trauma of chronic homelessness.
Our vision is that homelessness in our community—if it occurs—is rare, brief, and non-recurring. The Annex will help interrupt the spiral of chronic homelessness early through healthy living and community connections.
- Prevent homelessness: Preventing the trauma of homelessness, which includes exposure to violence, rapid decline in health due to stress, and poor living conditions, is critical. People need to be re-housed as quickly as possible after falling in to homelessness to avoid its accompanying, well-documented, profound effects.
- Prepare for the future: The program of services and supports for residents of The Annex project is designed to help people in their time of need, prepare them to be independent and successful tenants, and to help residents avoid homelessness in the future.
- Maintain support: Nurturing long-term connections and follow-up support for clients (We will conduct regular visits for at least one year after leaving The Annex), we assure their lasting success. Because of our engagement with housed clients, over 90% of them succeed in keeping their housing for more than a year.
By creating privately-financed housing options for individuals and families, in combination with Catholic Charities’ suite of programs and services, The Annex will offer a safe, one-stop transitional housing solution for individuals and families who have recently experienced or are at imminent risk of houselessness or face obstacles accessing other housing options. Apartments will be prioritized to those participating in Catholic Charities’ programs, including our Housing Transitions Program for homeless women, Migration Services, Family Services and Counseling, and Save First Financial Wellness.
The goal of The Annex is to empower residents to build skills and psychological preparedness to thrive in permanent housing. Our wraparound programming, in conjunction with complimentary services from community healthcare partners, will ensure a tailored, holistic approach that meets the needs of every resident’s physical, social, and emotional well-being. Those services will include the following:
- Mental health and counseling
- Pregnancy, parenting, and family services
- Refugee and immigration legal services
- Housing transition assistance
- Financial empowerment and job readiness training
All residents will also be enrolled in a matched savings account where a portion of their rent will be deposited and matched. Upon leaving The Annex, those funds will be available for residents as they enter permanent housing. The amount saved will likely be enough for the first month of rent and a security deposit. There will also be an on-site residence services coordinator to assist all clients and manage the facility.
Finally, an array of volunteer-driven services and opportunities from local faith communities, healthcare services, and other groups will provide additional support while promoting a deep sense of community and belonging. Our clients and staff designed The Annex’s living and community spaces using trauma-informed design principles to balance opportunities for socialization—indoors and out—while ensuring privacy and security.
Want to learn more? View our brochure
Environmentally conscious & affordable transitional housing
27 new units dedicated to preventing the trauma of homelessness.
Safe and secure community
Private, secure living spaces and indoor/outdoor gathering areas.
Wraparound services for physical, mental, and social well-being.
Convenient urban location
Nearby access to public transit, schools, shopping, and parks.
Resident stability and asset development
Support for healthcare, job placement, housing stability, and financial empowerment, including matched savings accounts.
Sister City is helmed by Anna Lucey Mackay, an empathetic placemaker who understands the complexities, needs, and people that guide meaningful development. Mackay led the first Regulation-A crowd-investing effort for new construction in the U.S. and raised a tranche of crowd-invested equity from everyday Oregonians to fund a homelessness project in just 68 hours. Anna is a champion for new models of development that emphasize non-displacement and affordable retail. With The Annex, she is exploring the union of affordable housing with cutting-edge, environmentally sustainable construction.
All Hands Architecture
All Hands Architecture brings a collaborative approach to the creation of buildings. The firm is an Oregon Emerging Small Business founded in 2020 by Ben Carr, who brings deep expertise in the design, permitting and construction of multifamily and commercial projects in Portland, as well as several years on the board of the Kerns Neighborhood Association. The baseline mission of All Hands is to work together and create the kinds of thoughtful buildings we all want to live and work in.
As a general contractor serving some of our nation’s most diverse communities in the Portland and Bay Area, Truebeck Construction believes a diverse workforce is essential to a project’s success. For the Annex, our team took a closer look at the diversity of our project partners. While we’ve always tracked relevant business information, the focus on diversity has shed new light on who we work with. One of our core values at Truebeck is, “Business and life are all about people.” Learning more about what makes our partners unique helps us develop relationships that go beyond a simple business connection.
Working with the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC), Truebeck’s team found partners who can provide their unique insights into the construction of the Annex project. Since the Annex will serve a diverse community, it only makes sense that community is represented in the workforce.
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