This February, as we recognize Black History Month, Central City Concern is proud to celebrate all of our African American staff and program participants. Over the course of this month, this blog will be a space where we’ll feature reflections on and information about several of our culturally specific programs, as well as the equity work taking place at Central City Concern. This is the first post of our series.
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Central City Concern is proud to have a long standing presence in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood community. CCC first established its presence in the area in 1979 when the organization – then known as the Burnside Consortium - opened its doors in 1979 as a coordinating agency. As Central City Concern developed, it sought to provide safe housing for low-income individuals. Eventually, CCC stepped into housing management, then into housing development through historic renovations, use conversions, and new construction in Old Town.
In 1988, CCC acquired one of the most historic buildings in the Old Town neighborhood: the Golden West Hotel on the corner of NW Broadway and NW Everett. At the turn of the 20th century – a time when the city was largely segregated and unwelcoming to its African American community – the hotel was owned and managed by an African American family. The Golden West became the first hotel in Portland to welcome African American patrons. The hotel served as a vibrant social hub of the Black community and became a vital part of the African American experience in Portland. (You can learn more about the rich history and significance of the Golden West Hotel by visiting our online historical exhibit.)
Shortly after the building was acquired, Central City Concern performed extensive renovations on the building, and reopened it in 1989.
Today, the Golden West is home to several Central City Concern programs, including services specifically developed to serve members of the African American community. The programs provide culturally specific support and services to participants experiencing mental illness and addictions through relationship and trust building, culturally specific outreach and engagement, and connection to natural support systems. You'll hear from those leading these programs in subsequent posts.
The Golden West, though no longer a hotel, has again become an important part of the African American community in Portland. It remains a space that serves the Black community as a place that facilitates dignity, community, and a reclaiming of identity.