Central City Concern

Providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness and achieving self-sufficiency. Based in Portland, Ore. since 1979.

Building Our Neighborhoods with Bank of America

Dec 03, 2020

We’re thrilled to announce Central City Concern has been named as a 2020 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardee. Along with Portland Community College Foundation, we were selected for our work to address issues fundamental to economic mobility by providing housing and workforce development services in Portland.

Annually, the bank’s selection committee chooses two organizations to receive the Neighborhood Builders award that includes a $200,000 grant in flexible funding, a year of leadership training, a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and the opportunity to access capital to expand our impact.

CCC will dedicate the dollars to expanding Flip the Script, our unique program serving recently incarcerated men and women with integrated housing, employment and peer support services. Over the next two years, our goal is to double the number of people receiving housing and workforce training services through the program.

Since the start of the pandemic, CCC has seen a dramatic increase in demand for services that address different levels of housing insecurity, health disparities and homelessness. For example, the need for rent assistance has increased by over 200% since the same time last year. In response, we’ve pivoted operations to provide more relief to more people. One of the changes includes moving the physical location of Flip the Script to the newly renovated Henry building, a more accessible space for clients and in closer proximity to the Justice Center. This move and program expansion are supported by the Neighborhood Builders grant and will help more applicants leaving the justice system learn about Flip the Script.

“This investment will help us reach more individuals with the opportunity to turn their lives around,” says Rachel Solotaroff, CCC President & CEO. “Homelessness in Portland was already on the rise before the pandemic, but the dramatic increase in financial insecurity has meant even more individuals find themselves on the brink. We need a variety of programs to address the needs of different at-risk populations. Flip the Script works with individuals exiting the justice system to provide stable housing and workforce development pathways.”

This newest grant builds on a partnership with Bank of America that began earlier this year with a $50,000 COVID-19 response grant to support CCC’s efforts to provide safe housing to our community’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

“Central City Concern and the Portland Community College Foundation are reaching disadvantaged communities through housing and workforce development programs, which align with Bank of America’s commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity,” says Roger Hinshaw, Oregon and Southwest Washington market president, Bank of America. “As we consider many of the challenges that our communities are facing – from the health and humanitarian crisis brought on by the coronavirus to the need for progress on racial equality and economic opportunity – the Neighborhood Builders program continues to be a relevant and timely initiative to support the communities we serve.”

Since 2004, through the Neighborhood Builders program, Bank of America has invested more than $260 million in 50 communities, partnering with more than 1,300 nonprofits and more than 2,600 nonprofit leaders.

Thank you, Bank of America, for your continued support in helping us meet the needs of our community!

 



Holding on to Hope

Nov 25, 2020

Celeste is a single mom who lives in Central City Concern’s Hazel Heights residential building. She works in downtown Portland at the Maybelle Center, but her hours were cut when COVID-19 first caused Oregon’s economy to slow down.

Celeste had been sick and taken time off work to recover. She was behind on her bills and had missed a rent payment. So even before the pandemic she was barely hanging on — a feeling she knew all too well.

Four years ago, when Celeste arrived at CCC, she was pregnant, homeless and struggling with addiction to methamphetamines and heroin.

After her son was born, social services workers told Celeste she couldn’t take her baby with her when she left the hospital. He’d need to live with her relatives or enter foster care.

At that point, she made the choice to enter recovery. Celeste moved into CCC’s Letty Owings Center, a residential facility for pregnant or parenting women.

“For so long I felt alone," she says. “Then I walked into a home with 25 other women and their children going through the same thing I was going through.”

That decision helped her turn things around. With support from CCC, she got her baby back and moved from Letty Owings to Hazel Heights, where she took workshops to gain parenting and financial skills. She also joined a CCC job training program, learning leadership and technical skills that she used to apply for permanent work with the help of CCC’s Employment Access Center.

After multiple job offers, Celeste signed on at the Maybelle Center. She’s been there ever since, helping low-income Portlanders build community and overcome social isolation. “When I take these resources, I know how much it means for it to come back to me,” she says. “I needed the help, and it was there.”


Being involved with CCC meant that Celeste had community around her — and that held true even during the COVID-19 shutdown. When her hours were cut, she didn’t lose hope. She knew there were people who could help her figure out what to do.

Like many of her neighbors at Hazel Heights, Celeste was able to access rent assistance funds provided to CCC residents through grants and individual donations. The money helped her get caught up and keep a roof over her family’s head. Without rental assistance, Celeste says that she imagines a very different outcome for herself and her family during the pandemic. “I would’ve thought, ‘I’ll never get out of this, so I might as well give up.’”

For people like Celeste, even one missed rent check can be the difference between relapsing and staying on track. And at CCC, rent payments support the wraparound, integrated services that our clients depend on. “Nobody chooses to be an addict,” she says. “But you can choose to be in recovery. I make that decision every day.”


Your gift to Central City Concern directly supports those like Celeste, who are feeling the impacts of COVID-19 first-hand and who need the support of our community during this year like no other. Please make a donation through Give!Guide today.



A Search for Home Brings Long-Term Security

Nov 18, 2020

Jeanette and John both grew up in Portland. But when they returned to Oregon after several years in Georgia, the couple discovered big changes. Like many African American Portlanders facing the impacts of gentrification, they discovered they could no longer afford to live in their hometown: historically Black neighborhoods had become home to mostly white, high-income residents and rents had skyrocketed.

Then Jeanette and John heard about Central City Concern’s Charlotte B. Rutherford building, located in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood. At the Rutherford building, under the Portland Housing Bureau’s N/NE Preference Policy, people with generational ties to North Portland can find a home. It’s a piece of CCC’s work to help address a legacy of marginalization and displacement and to help rebuild community for Black Portlanders.

When the Rutherford opened in 2018, the couple were among its first residents. “This was a blessing for us,” says Jeanette, from her apartment on the top floor of the North Portland building. She and John value living in a place where they hear children playing in the hallway and feel connected to their neighbors.

But when COVID-19 hit, they needed some help to stay there.

John is a minister, but his work as a Lyft driver pays the couple’s bills. That income vanished in March. John, who is 66, receives monthly Social Security checks that cover food and bills, but not much more. Suddenly, they were uncertain about how they would pay rent.

Then in June, John had a heart attack that left him unable to work even though restrictions on Lyft drivers had eased. He spent two days in the hospital and a month healing at home until his doctor cleared him to get back to work.

“From March to July, all we had was Social Security. Our family brought over food, but we didn’t want to be a burden on them,” says Jeanette. Eight of her 11 siblings still live in the Portland area, but they’re all older and living on fixed incomes. Jeanette worried about straining her family’s collective resources.

“We just didn’t know we’d be down that long. We didn’t know what we were going to do.”


But at CCC, rent payments aren’t just about paying for physical space — they fund a wide variety of integrated services that wrap around and support residents. So when things got dicey, Jeanette and John weren’t facing it alone. Instead, there was a Resident Support Specialist at the Rutherford to notice their struggle and offer resources like rent assistance.

It was a godsend to learn that rent assistance was available, Jeanette says. She and John applied and quickly received the help they needed.

“It was such a blessing,” says Jeanette. Without the stress and worry of falling behind on rent, John was able to heal.

Now John’s back at the wheel, although he must keep the windows open to circulate air while driving. Jeanette put her efforts toward applying for a new job, and landed a position with the State of Oregon. “I’m thankful for this job,” she says. “I enjoy it. I’m part of helping get people what they need.”

Jeanette and John— and their neighbors at the Charlotte B. Rutherford— have found their feet, but they didn’t have to do it alone. Whether they’re entertaining the neighbor kids, walking through the rose garden at nearby Peninsula Park, or sharing online fellowship with John’s congregation, the couple is part of a community that is uniting to stay secure, strong and healthy —even in the face of unprecedented hardship.


Your gift to Central City Concern helps bring safety and stability to families, like Jeanette and John, who have faced unforeseen challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. With your support, we’re helping Portlanders navigate hardship and find hope during these times of unprecedented uncertainty. Please make a donation through Give!Guide today.



Housing

Central City Concern helps people find the stability of home, as well as a new community to support their goals. Our Housing Choice model allows people to choose the kind of housing based on their personal needs. Learn more »

Health and Recovery

Access to integrated primary and behavioral health care is key to successful recovery. CCC offers exceptional, compassionate care to meet patients' primary care, mental health care and substance use disorder treatment needs. Learn more »

Employment

The journey from being homeless to finding a living wage job can be arduous, especially without a guide. CCC's employment programs provide vital supports to those desiring to make progress toward self-sufficiency. Learn more »