​‘Tis the season for CCC's Adopt-A-Child Program!

Nov 04, 2016

This year, Central City Concern opened a new building in Clackamas County, which became home to 60 families. That makes 148 families now living in Central City Concern family housing.

We are thankful for 236 children sleeping, learning, and growing in safe, supportive, and healthy homes. Now it’s time to give them some unforgettable holiday memories. Our goal is to make sure all 236 children have gifts to open this year.

     

Please consider fulfilling the wish list of one or more children by registering individually, or as a group, to help provide holiday presents for all. We will share the first name and gift wish list of each child you choose to adopt.

Additionally, here are a few other ways you can help during the holiday season:

- Start a Toy Drive at your workplace.
- Send gift cards for families to fulfill wish lists.

For more information on how you can get involved, please contact Melissa Bishop at 971-352-8715 or melissa.bishop@ccconcern.org.

Thank you so much!

 



CCC on NPR: TANF 20th Anniversary

Sep 09, 2016

We want to share a National Public Radio story (August 22, 2016) recognizing the 20th anniversary of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), which highlights Central City Concern’s (CCC) opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. Amber’s story of treatment for her addiction disorder and bringing her family back together is inspiring. Oregon is lucky compared to other states who haven’t supported the TANF program as well.

Of course, we were thrilled to get national recognition for CCC and Oregon’s strong programming to help families. The strength of Oregon’s support to needy families is, in part, due to the good work of the Oregon TANF Alliance*, a consortium of agencies. This alliance works with the Oregon legislature and the Oregon Department of Human Services to ensure the TANF program reaches every eligible family for the federally allowable time-limit of 5 years, protecting thousands of children from the most extreme form of family poverty: zero income. Without this cash benefit, as well the childcare expenses and the supportive case management services covered by TANF, thousands of families would be living on Portland’s streets.        


We were greatly relieved—for our own clients as well as for families across the state—that TANF funding was maintained and improved during the 2016 legislative session. It remains crucial to provide families with a firm pathway out of poverty and toward a more stable income—and TANF plays a major role in that support. Every day, CCC supports TANF families through treatment, housing and employment services. And we will continue to fight for TANF families both here in Oregon and at the federal level. Today, an Oregon family has to earn at or below a paltry 37 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for TANF cash assistance; that’s down from 59 percent when the program began in 1996. For a deeper understanding of TANF in Oregon over the past 20 years, we suggest a review of this recent blog post from the Oregon Center for Public Policy .

CCC collaborates with many others to fight poverty and end homelessness; it makes us stronger and more effective. We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Oregon TANF Alliance to help families in Oregon stay together and safe.

 

 



Town Center Courtyards Is Keeping Families Together

Jul 25, 2016

Amber L. is absolutely over the moon. The 27-year-old mom is moving back to Clackamas, Ore., where she grew up, into a brand new apartment. “I am so happy to be coming back with my son to a safe, beautiful home,” she told the crowd of close to 100 people who attended the grand opening of Town Center Courtyards on Wednesday, July 20.

Town Center Courtyards will become a stable, supportive home for families who are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness. The 60-unit, mixed-income apartment complex is a shining example of form and function. All the units have exterior doors and overlook courtyards where families can socialize and kids can play. The apartments are spacious and bright. There will be two Central City Concern (CCC) staff members on-site to help residents with life skills, employment, educational development, recovery, parenting and wellness support. The neighborhood is well located near public transportation, public schools, public parks, child care centers, grocery stores and numerous employment opportunities.

CCC Family Housing has served more than 1,000 families since 2000. Just last year, our Family Housing program served 122 families that included 189 children:

- 75 kids were able to stay with their families and avoid foster care.
- 79 of those families were able to find permanent housing.
- 30 of the parents found employment and 20 entered school. One parent even graduated from college.

But clients can wait as long as six months to access family housing. Town Center Courtyards will add 60 units (20 one-bedroom, one-bath; 32 two-bedrooms, one-bath; 8 three-bedrooms, 1.5 bath) to CCC’s existing 92 units of family housing.

Town Center Courtyards was completed on time and ahead of schedule. Families should start moving in during August. This is just one of several CCC affordable housing projects moving forward this summer.

Town Center Courtyards is the result of robust collaboration between CCC, Clackamas County, Oregon Housing & Community Services and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, as well as many foundations and individual donors. These partners are providing the opportunity for families to have a safe, affordable place to call home.

During the grand opening, Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader, Director of Clackamas County Housing & Community Development Chuck Robbins, Director of Oregon Housing & Community Services Claire Seguin, Vice-president of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation Ann Melone, and CCC’s Senior Director of Housing and Recovery Support Services Sharon Fitzgerald all spoke of the importance of supporting the community by providing affordable housing in which families can thrive.

Amber says she was filled with gratitude when she cut the ribbon to officially open Town Center Courtyards. “Thank you for making my dream come true," she said.



One Dad. One Daughter. One Day at a Time.

Jun 13, 2016

“We have a good relationship today,” says Easten B., of his daughter Zoe, an accomplished high school sophomore.

But things weren’t always that way. Easten was absent for six years of Zoe’s life battling drugs, alcohol, and homelessness. Since getting clean and sober almost three years ago, a lot has changed for Easten and Zoe. “It all started at Hooper,” he says, referring to Central City Concern’s Hooper Detox, where life took a dramatic turn for the better. It was there, in 2009 that Easten committed to “living a life free of fear, shame, and regret.” He wanted to be a good dad and he wanted to pursue his dream of owning a farm like his great-great grandfather once did.

Soon after completing treatment at Hooper Detox, Easten was accepted into Central City Concern’s Recovery Mentor Program, which included supportive housing in an alcohol- and drug-free environment at the Estate Hotel. He was surrounded by people who were hungry for a new way of life and positive change. He worked with CCC counselors and fellow residents to get and stay healthy. He joined the Community Volunteer Corps (CVC) and engaged in group projects that involved everything from pulling ivy at the Oregon Zoo to folding newsletters at the Hollywood Senior Center in northeast Portland.

“CVC gave me a sense of purpose—that is so important in early recovery.”

The following year he secured a 6-month trainee position in Central City Concern’s Downtown Clean and Safe program. He was able to get into a daily routine that not only added structure to his life, but also helped build self-esteem.

While in treatment at the Central City Concern Recovery Center, a counselor told Easten to work every day to get better. He told Easten to beware of life’s plateaus and to keep reaching for more.

So Easten has kept reaching. He recently began work with Progress Rail, a contracting company for Union Pacific Railroad, doing maintenance, safety tests, and inspections on train cars in the field. The job has enabled him to get his own apartment in northwest Portland. It’s a long way from the tent he used to live in under the St. Johns Bridge.

He’s also kept reaching in another important way: to be a good Dad to Zoe. To Easten, that means being “available, patient, understanding, and willing to love unconditionally.” Easten doesn’t want the disease of addiction to take away anymore birthdays, holidays, or opportunities to participate in his daughter’s life.

“I wasn’t good at being a dad the first time around, and I’m so grateful to get another chance. I taught Zoe to fish and to skateboard. And now I’m teaching her to drive.”

Zoe is a standout student who makes her father proud. He sees unlimited potential in the effort she puts forth every day in and out of the classroom.

“She’s in a Technical Theater Program and signs fluently. Her choir took first place in a big competition this year and she competed in Battle of the Books. She’s a good student who’s outgoing and cares a lot for others. All of this is a big deal to me,” says Easten. “She’s going to be great ... I know it.”

“My mind and body are healthier than ever now,” Easten shares. “I couldn’t have done any of this without Central City Concern.”

• • •

Honor Easten or any father by making a donation to Central City Concern today.



CCC Makes Progress on Affordable Housing in Portland

Jun 09, 2016

As the days get longer and warmer, Central City Concern is moving forward on exciting affordable housing projects this summer to serve the Portland Metro area!

• • •

Hill Park Apartments

On Wednesday, May 25, community members, funders, and staff gathered in the Lair Hill neighborhood in Southwest Portland to break ground on the site of Hill Park Apartments, a new 39-unit housing community. Eight of the units will be for individuals living with serious mental illness, while the remaining 31 apartments will be for low-income households; many of those units will be filled by graduates of CCC programs who have gained employment with the help of the Employment Access Center.

CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn thanked partners, followed by remarks from Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Jill Sherman of Gerding Edlen Development, and Michael Montgomery of U.S. Bank. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Kurt Creager of Portland Housing Bureau, and representatives from our many partners and funders also attended the groundbreaking.

Hill Park Apartments will open in Spring 2017.


Town Center Courtyards

A new 60-unit, permanent supportive housing apartment community comprised of one, two, and three bedroom units in Clackamas is nearly complete. This affordable housing will serve individuals and families earning less than 60 percent of area median family income, meeting one or more of the following: in recovery from alcohol and/or drug abuse, homeless families with children, survivors of domestic violence, and families working toward reunification and regaining custody of children from protective services and foster care.

Town Center Courtyards is scheduled to open in August 2016.


Miracles Central

This six-story, 47-unit housing development in the Lloyd District is a collaboration between CCC and the Miracles Club, a partner recovery-based organization focused on Portland’s African-American community. The building will consist of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, intended as peer-based recovery housing for singles and families.

Miracles Central is schedule to open by August 2016.

• • •

CCC gratefully relies on support from community partners and donors to develop affordable and supportive housing projects that lift up our community and provide hopeful futures for people in Portland. We are working on additional construction that could add hundreds of affordable housing units to the Portland Metro area in the near future. Stay tuned!



Holiday Adopt-a-Child Needs Your Help!

Nov 24, 2015

Season's greetings! The cold weather abruptly rolling into Portland reminds us that the holidays are getting closer. Soon many of use will be getting ready for the holidays, thinking of preparing special meals, and buying the perfect gifts for our loved ones.

Parents in Central City Concern's family housing are doing the same. But for many of these parents, it is a time of stress and worry about how they are going to make these special memories for their families.
 
Before letting you know how you can help, we want to share this short video of Randi with you. She is an example of how living in a supportive environment like Central City Concern can transform people's lives.
 
Like Randi's mom said in the video, "it takes a village, and that's truly what Central City Concern is." You are a part of that village!

Now, how can you help? Central City Concern's Family Housing has an annual “Holiday Adopt-A-Child Program” and with your help we can bring much joy and unexpected happiness to the 88 families who currently live in our low-income and drug-free communities.

These moms and dads have made a commitment to become better parents and community members. Some juggle employment with school, and others are just starting the path to a better way of life. They are all in need of some assistance during the holiday season.

Here are a few ways you can help.

1)  Register to Adopt-A-Child for this Holiday Season
You can register to adopt one or as many as children as you wish. We will provide the first name and gift wish list of each child you choose. Please contact Catharine Hunter as soon as possible to get registered: e-mail her at catharine.hunter@ccconcern.org or call her directly at 503-200-3903.

2) Send a gift card
We encourage the donation of gift cards for our families. Over the years, we’ve learned that gift cards are deeply appreciated by families because they not only provide supplemental holiday items, but they also give parents the opportunity to personally purchase items for their children.

Please send gift cards to
Attention: Catharine Hunter
Central City Concern
232 NW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

3) Purchase and deliver items from our Gift Ideas list
Based upon children’s wish lists, we have compiled a general Gift Ideas list from which you may purchase individual items.

These items can be dropped off at the following:
Central City Concern Administration Office
232 NW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

OR

Central City Concern Sunrise Place
5724 NE Prescott
Portland, OR 97218
Saturday, December 12th and/or Sunday, December 13th between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
 
If you would like to arrange a time outside of these options please contact Catharine Hunter at 503-200-3903!
 
We are very grateful for you partnering with our Holiday Adopt-A-Child Program this year and look forward to hearing from you. Your contribution to this program will make such a big difference in the lives of many Portland families during the winter holidays.



Leslie's Story

Aug 26, 2015

As a kid growing up in Oregon City, Leslie P. always loved the start of a new school year. 

Not because it meant shopping for new clothes. Not because it meant she’d get to show off her smarts in class. Not because it meant she’d get to see all of her friends everyday. Leslie P. loved the start of a new school year because it meant she’d have a safe place to go for seven hours a day, five days a week. 

Leslie’s mom died when she was a baby. Not long after, Leslie’s alcoholic, drug-dealing dad sent her to live with her grandparents. The one rule there she and her older brother had to abide by? Be out of the living room by 5 p.m. so Grandpa could drink his drink and watch the TV news. 

And so began a childhood of being shuttled from one drug-addicted relative to another, one foster home to another. In spite of the chaos, “I didn’t get into too much trouble,” Leslie says. “But I went over to the wrong houses so bad things happened to me . . . .” 

No wonder Leslie sometimes looked for hiding places when it came time to board the 3 p.m. school bus back home. 

At age eight, Leslie picked up cigarettes. At age 13, she picked up pot. Then came alcohol, methamphetamines, pain pills, and heroin. She dropped out of high school, found work at a fast food restaurant, and intermittently continued to ply a trade she learned from her dad when she was a teenager—drug dealing. 

Over the next several years, Leslie would get it together for a few months, then slide back into addiction, couch-surfing, and chaos—a cycle that continually repeated itself. At age 20, she gave birth to first child, Joshua. Six years later, Emma arrived. Three years later, Leslie was arrested for dealing drugs. Leslie’s children were placed in foster care—just like she had been. 

That quiet little voice in her head that had been telling her to get help finally roared. “I couldn’t function. I couldn’t parent my kids. I couldn’t take care of myself.” 

Leslie discovered she was pregnant with a third child. She begged for help. The judge and attorneys on her case arranged for reduced jail time and a referral to Central City Concern’s Letty Owings Center, a residential addiction treatment center for women in poverty who are pregnant or parenting young children. Finally, Leslie’s life began to turn around. 



When she entered the Letty Owings Center in March 2012, Leslie began learning the life skills her own parents never taught her. Emma came to live with her there five months later. 

Leslie was worried. “I had missed her whole year of preschool. She was going to be a kindergartener. I wondered how I was going to get her school supplies and clothing.” 

Central City Concern helped them get everything Emma would need to start kindergarten right. 

A month later, in September 2012, Leslie gave birth to Malakai. In October she, Emma, and Malakai moved into one of Central City Concern’s alcohol- and drug-free family housing communities for women with children. There, Leslie continued to receive support and guidance from addiction treatment specialists, case managers, certified peer mentors, and employment specialists

“When I moved in, all the girls came over and helped me, and cooked dinner for me, and made it feel like home. It was like I found a new family. I had unconditional support.” 

Leslie is now working full-time as an entry-level administrative assistant and pursuing an associate’s degree at Portland Community College. And she is trying to be the best mom she can be so her kids don’t have to have the kind of childhood she did. Right now, that means letting her first-born son, Joshua, stay with his dad.*

And it also means getting Emma ready to start third grade. “I want school to be a place where Emma learns about everything and anything she wants. I don’t want it to be the same way it was for me—a place where I went to hide from things that were hurting me. I want it to be a place where Emma can follow her dreams.” 

Emma tore through her summer reading list. The family’s morning routine includes Emma reading out loud to Malakai at the breakfast table. Leslie hopes this practice will better prepare Malakai for when it’s time for him to start school. 

Leslie is grateful to be in Central City Concern’s safe, supportive, affordable housing as she continues in this new phase of her life. And she’s grateful for the opportunity to be a good neighbor and role model, giving back to the people who are just starting out at Central City Concern. 

“I have a job, an apartment, my kids. Had I continued on the path that I was on, I wouldn’t be alive right now. My kids wouldn’t have a mom. I’m in a really different place right now. It’s an amazing feeling.” 

You can help other moms like Leslie! Click here to donate to Central City Concern.

*We recently had a chance to reconnect with Leslie and she had some wonderful news to share. Soon after this story was published, Joshua moved in with Leslie, Emma, and Malakai. Leslie was so happy to share this amazing update with us. She says her home now feels complete.