The HEARTH Project

HEARTH stands for: Housing, Employment, and Recovery Together for Health. Researchers from Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University, and National College of Natural Medicine work with Central City Concern clients and staff to learn more about homelessness, the recovery process, and the communities CCC serves.  

Results of our research projects are used to influence policy, identify best practices, and let other communities know about CCC's work to address homelessness.

What makes HEARTH different from other research partnerships?

During most research projects, the professor or researcher thinks of an interesting research question, and then decides how to gather information about that question. The entire research process is up to the researcher. HEARTH is different.

HEARTH researchers work as a team with the Central City Concern community. Staff and clients are part of each step of the research process from forming research questions, to deciding how to gather data, to understanding what the data means.

This is called community-based participatory research or CBPR.


“Street to Home,” Photovoice Project: Photos and group discussion are used to explore life on the streets and finding a home.  A photo exhibition, displaying a selection of the photos, gave attendees of the National Health Care for the Homeless Conference in Portland a chance to view the photographs. Select pieces have been shared on a Central City Concern Facebook photo album.        

Photovoice Participants (L to R): Art Rios, Jr., Maximilian West, Gordon Karpen, Rai McKenzie, Ted Amann, Ken Jones, Greg Townley, Shasta Leming, and Samm McCrary.

Potential Future Projects

Housing is Health: Examines how housing impacts the health of people who were previously homeless. We will look at measures of immune capacity, stress hormone levels, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. 

The Power of Peers: Explores how peers can impact recovery of Central City Concern clients.

Managing Pain during Recovery: Examines whether group acupuncture is helpful in managing chronic pain during recovery.

Housing and Recovery: Investigates features of Alcohol and Drug Free Housing and Housing First that might support recovery.


HEARTH also provides consulting on research and evaluation projects occurring at CCC and at other organizations.  HEARTH has provided consulting to:

  • The Central City Concern Census
  • Evaluation of the Living Room
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Family focus group project (Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon)
  • Food insecurity research project (Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon)

Conference presentations

Townley, G., Amann, T., Cerra, N., Jones, K., Karpen, G., McCrary, S., McKenzie, R., West, M. "From street to home: A photovoice project with clients of Central City Concern inspired by their journeys into and out of homelessness." Presented at Community Research & Action in the West Conference, Portland, OR, October 2016.

Cerra, N., Townley, G., and Caress, D. “2015 Central City Concern Community Health Survey.” Presented at the National Health Care for the Homeless Conference, Portland, OR, June 2016. (Download poster)

Cobb, G. and Amann, T. “Listening to Portland’s homeless and recovering community.” Presented at the National Healthcare for the Homeless Conference, New Orleans, LA, 2014. 

Farquhar, S., Romm, C., Carlson, M., and Larin, L. “Listening to Portland’s homeless and recovering community: The HEARTH project.” Presented at Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Annual Conference, Houston, TX, April 29, 2012.

Romm, C., Blackburn, E., Fitzgerald, S., Farquhar, S., and Lowe, R. “Designing urban spaces to foster recovery, housing, and community.” Presented at the International Making Cities Livable Conference, Portland, OR, May 21, 2012.

Amann, T. Learning session with Community-Campus Partnership for Health Conference, Portland, OR.  2011.


Robberson, R., & Nilsen, K. (2015). An Evaluation of the Living Room: Members' Experiences of Hopefulness.  The Community Psychologist, 48(3)

Farquhar, S.A., Ryder, M., Henderlong, D., Lowe, R.A., & Amann, T. (2014). Listening to Consumer Perspectives to Inform Addictions and Housing-Related Practice and Research. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 5(1), 1-14.

Cerra, N. (2014). Voices of Recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. White Paper. Department of Human Services, State of Oregon.

Cerra, N. (2016). Finding Food Security in Portland, Oregon: A Qualitative Study among SNAP Recipients. White Paper. Department of Human Services, State of Oregon.

Sources of Funding

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (2009)
Northwest Health Foundation (2012)
Central City Concern (2010-present)

Contact Us

By mail: HEARTH Project, Central City Concern, 33 NW Broadway, Portland OR 97209     
By email:

Academic Principal Investigator
Greg Townley, PhD, Assistant Professor of Community Psychology, Portland State University

Project Coordinator
Nicole Cerra, MA, MPH

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