Central City Concern

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

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.



Crescent Court Apartments Breaks Ground

Nov 16, 2020

On  November 10, Central City Concern (CCC), Related NW and an array of community partners broke ground on a new project, Crescent Court Apartments, continuing to move CCC forward in our mission of serving the most vulnerable in our community.

In lieu of a traditional groundbreaking, Related NW joined forces with IRCO’s Mill Park Food Pantry to provide groceries for those experiencing food insecurity. Related NW, CCC, Walsh Construction, and the Boys and Girls Club of Portland distributed pre-packed bags of groceries to approximately 100 families. U.S. Bank, Walsh Construction and Related NW donated and delivered food and household items to the pantry; teens from the Boys and Girls Club filled the bags with the donated material. Related NW, US Bank and Ankrom Moisan Architects donated cash to IRCO’s food pantry.

CCC's Sustainable Development Manager, Rachel Maas, helped distribute food at the Crescent Court groundbreaking.

“Beyond offering affordable housing to vulnerable families in our community, we’re offering hope,” says Mary-Rain O’Meara, CCC’s Director of Real-Estate Development. “Hope for the future and hope for all of the families who will call Crescent Court home. We’re proud to continue our partnership with Related NW and all of the partners who will provide much needed services at Crescent Court.”

Located at SE 115th and Division Streets, Crescent Court Apartments is Portland’s newest affordable and supportive housing community for families. Adjacent to Cedar Commons, the partnership’s inaugural affordable development, Crescent Court Apartments will be home to 138 studio to three-bedroom apartments for low and very low-income families, communities of color, and immigrants and refugees. Seven apartments have been designated as Permanent Supportive Housing for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The building will be served by mass transit and other public amenities such as parks, the Midland Library and the East Portland Community Center. Additionally, we specifically located Crescent Court within a mile of our Blackburn Center so that residents may take advantage of all the added wraparound services.

Common area amenities will include a community room with kitchen, shared laundry, internet stations, playground and picnic area. Intensive on-site social services will be provided by CCC, while IRCO will provide services to immigrant and refugee families. After-school programs will be administered by the Boys and Girls Club of Portland.

Completion is slated for 2022.

From left to right: Laurie Linville-Gregston, Senior Associate/Architect  Ankrom Moisan Architects; Imani Muhammad, Area Director of East County Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland; Nami Bigos, Fundraising Coordinator, Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization;  Stef Kondor, Vice President Development Related Northwest; Ryan Hood, Project Manger Related Northwest; Rachel Maas, Sustainable Development Manager Central City Concern; Meghan Herteg, Project Manager Walsh Construction Co.



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 »