Now is the Time for Oregon to Use Our Rainy-Day Funds

May 28, 2020

Last week, we heard from Oregon state economists.

They predict the sharpness in the decline of state revenue is unprecedented. This has sweeping implications for every Oregonian.

As our elected leaders create an economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever they champion policies that provide support and relief to individuals and communities across Oregon who are hardest hit by COVID-19: low-wage earners, people experiencing homelessness, women, immigrants, and Black, indigenous and people of color.

Many of these communities are served by state agencies providing critical affordable housing, human services, healthcare and employment services. We must protect and invest more resources in the critical public services our communities have increasingly come to rely upon. We:

1. Ask Governor Brown to call a special session of the legislature now so that they pass a revised state budget aimed at addressing this new revenue shortfall; and

2. Request our legislators maintain funding at current levels for the critical human services provided and invest more in services that help people achieve health and economic stability. We encourage lawmakers to focus on bringing additional federal relief dollars to our state and to tap into the $2.4 billion our state has in reserve funds.

Central City Concern is still here for our most vulnerable populations, now more than ever. 

We have a long history of providing support for people experiencing homelessness with complex health care needs, focusing on client-centered, wraparound, highly flexible services and economic opportunity. We know these services work to end homelessness.

We’ve stepped up our response during the COVID-19 pandemic by:

 
  • Implementing a COVID triage phone number for urgent health care needs for all CCC residents.
  • Providing access to phones to simplify the enrollment process for patients with barriers to accessing technology. However, much more is needed than we can currently provide. And, we know not all communities are able to take advantage of tele health options. We need spaces that can provide in-door bathrooms, food, clean water and respite, if traditional "drop-in" spaces continue to unavailable as the state opens back up.
  • Implementing excellent infection prevention standards.
  • Offering wraparound supports (food boxes, transport, enhanced janitorial services, etc.) in our residential buildings in case any of our residents need to quarantine or isolate.
  • Strengthening our community partnerships with other health care providers to provide deeper levels of service to our most vulnerable citizens. 
  • Increasing our fundraising and PPE (personal protective equipment) goals to respond to the increased need in our community.

Now is the time for our elected leaders to do their jobs.


There are two things you can do today:

1. Support our message on social media: Oregon needs a COVID response that puts people first and protects the vital services our communities depend on. #ORleg

2. Donate to CCC and support our COVID-19 response efforts today.



Supporter Highlight: Bank of America

May 27, 2020

For the past 40 years, the Portland community has trusted Central City Concern to respond to the changing needs of people experiencing homelessness with innovation and compassion. The impact of COVID-19 on our community is significant, especially among our most vulnerable citizens. As part of Bank of America’s $100 million global coronavirus community relief effort — which is in addition to its yearly $250 million philanthropic commitment — the bank stepped up to help CCC cover higher costs and reduced client income associated with the impacts of the new coronavirus. Areas of greatest impact include increased uncompensated care; new cleaning and safety protocols; more intensive medial services within limited group sizes and staffing as we deliver services via telehealth and group conferencing; and meals for residents with underlying health conditions who are unable to leave their units. The generous Bank of America grant will help Central City Concern address the shortfall our clients anticipate as they adapt to these unprecedented challenges and demand grows for the services we provide.

Thank you, Bank of America, for helping us meet the needs of our community as we continue to deliver life-saving services!

“Central City Concern has taken swift action to care for the well-being of its patients, clients and residents in response to the evolving challenges of coronavirus, and additional resources are required now to meet the growing need. Our investment will enable CCC to continue their work delivering care and resources to fellow Oregonians. CCC’s positive impact is measurable and crucial to the recovery that lies ahead, and we know they are uniquely positioned to make a difference for more than 13,500 residents annually in the Portland region. Now more than ever, we are in this together to address the needs of our community.”
Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America's Market President in Oregon and Southwest Washington



Supporter Highlight: Providence

May 20, 2020

Providence was one of Central City Concern’s (CCC) first partners to offer financial support for our COVID-19 response efforts when its St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund awarded CCC a grant of $20,000 in March. The grant helped cover early costs associated with the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), patient screening tools, cleaning supplies and higher levels of care for at-risk clients and residents who need to self-isolate or quarantine.

Providence has also supported CCC during COVID-19 through much-needed in-kind gifts. Amidst nationwide shortages of PPE, Providence generously gave 1,530 gloves, 1,370 procedure masks, 58 N95 masks and ten gowns to our front-line medical staff. For our residents and patients, Providence provided “comfort kits.” These included snacks, hygiene items, socks, puzzles and games which CCC distributed at our Supportive Housing and Recuperative Care Program sites.

Thank you, Providence, for your continued support of Central City Concern and our staff, patients, residents and clients!

“Providence has long partnered with Central City Concern, most recently on the development of the Blackburn Center — a beacon of progress in our communities’ efforts to collaborate through the Housing is Health network. In this time of COVID-19, Providence is pleased to have supported Central City Concern with PPE and essential funding to ensure services remain in place for our city’s most vulnerable.”
Joseph Ichter, DrPH, MHA, Director of Community Health Investment


Today is National Hepatitis Testing Day

May 19, 2020

As we wake up again amidst a flurry of thoughts on re-opening and the COVID-19 pandemic, Central City Concern encourages all of us to find room for consideration of another deadly disease.

Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis but the majority don’t know they’re infected. Today, May 19, is National Hepatitis Testing Day; May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. At CCC, our goal is to encourage universal testing and ultimately eliminate Hepatitis C from our community.

At CCC, we’re taking a pioneering approach to help stamp out this disease by 2030 in alignment with the World Health Organization goals.

Prior to COVID-19, Hep C was responsible for more deaths than at least 60 other reportable diseases combined. Hep C, an RNA virus which causes an insidious systemic inflammatory illness, is most famous for causing end stage liver disease and cancer. It also increases the risk of diabetes and worsens mental illness. For some, it can cause profound fatigue and chronic pain. Others are seemingly untouched, however, are still able to pass it on to someone else through high-risk sex or sharing drug injection equipment, unaware they’re living with the disease.

At CCC, we’re taking a pioneering approach to help stamp out this disease by 2030 in alignment with the World Health Organization goals.

Here’s what CCC offers and how you can get help:

  • Opt-out Hepatitis C, HIV, and Hepatitis B screening for everyone who visits a CCC clinical setting, Hooper Detox Center and (prior to COVID-19) in CCC residential housing.
  • Individual treatment through new and innovative pathways. Often people learn they have Hep C at the same time they’re scheduled to start treatment. CCC leaves stigma at the door, allowing people to decide for themselves when they’re ready to initiate treatment. Equally importantly, all those who test positive determine their own treatment pathway.
  • Wraparound care services. Our outstanding team of harm reductionists, care coordinators, pharmacistsand providers ensure patients get the treatment they deserve, even it if means delivering medications to a client’s home, correctional facility or hospital to ensure nobody misses a pill.

Our results speak for themselves. Over the last two and a half years, we’ve treated - and mostly cured - over 750 of Portland’s most vulnerable of this deadly disease. Almost 90% of the people we’ve diagnosed are initiated on treatment, with mostfully cured. These rates are not only exemplary in Oregon, but stand out on the national and global scale. We’re proud of this work.

Over the last two and a half years, we’ve treated - and mostly cured - over 750 of Portland’s most vulnerable of this deadly disease.

“The work CCC is doing to eliminate hepatitis C is about more than just the numbers or curing a virus,” says Dr. Andrew Seaman. “It’s about allowing people to leave their past behind and start over as well as protecting the broader community by decreasing the possibility of transmission. By treating and curing Hep C, we help people build better relationships with their communities, engage in addiction and harm reduction services,and take back some control in their lives.”


Here’s how you can get tested:

If you want screening and primary care services:

Visit Central City Concerns Old Town Clinic or Blackburn Center. Request an intake and you’ll be offered screening and treatment if your test is positive.

If you’ve been given a diagnosis of Hepatitis C in the past and want treatment:

Call Central City Concern’s Hepatitis C programs at either

Old Town Clinic 971-271-6232 or Blackburn Center 971-361-7886

At CCC, we’re determined to relegate Hep C to become a disease of the past.

We’ve started by attempting to eliminate Hepatitis C from within the walls of our institutions, however, we’re not stopping there. We’ll continue to innovate and develop new relationships and treatment pathways until every person in Portland has the opportunity for zero barrier, destigmatized access to the cure.



New Funding for Homelessness Needed Now More Than Ever

May 13, 2020

By now, you’ve received your ballot.

One of the measures you’re being asked to vote on is Measure 26-210. If approved, this measure will provide an estimated $250,000,000 annually of flexible dollars to fund homeless services, focusing on client-centered, wraparound, highly adaptable services and economic opportunity. Funds will be spread throughout the Portland Metro area,including all of Multnomah and most parts of Washington and Clackamas counties.

Measure 26-210 will fund flexible services that are critical for Portlanders like Jessica. In 2016, Jessica was deep in a decades-long struggle with meth and alcohol use disorder, unemployed, newly homeless and suddenly estranged from her three children. Getting back to her daughters was the motivation Jessica needed to seek treatment. She began her journey at CCC’s Hooper Detoxification and Stabilization Center, and she quickly found out she wouldn't walk the rest of the path to recovery alone. Instead, she entered the Recovery Mentor Program, accessed health care and mental health treatment and found employment through the Clean & Safe program. Throughout her journey, Jessica had safe, supportive housing, including transitional housing prior to moving into a permanent home with her three daughters in CCC’s family housing.

July marks four years clean and sober for Jessica. She’s a member of CCC’s environmental services team, saving to buy a home and preparing her growing daughters for careers of their own. Mother and daughters are happy, healthy, together. “Wow, Mom,” they said. “We’re doing pretty good.”

Voting for Measure 26-210 ensures that families like Jessica’s can build futures together.

Voters have been asking for a comprehensive solution for over ten years to help fund these critical services. In 2018, we courageously voted for a region wide affordable housing bond.

Let’s take the next step.

Voting for Measure 26-210 ensures that families like Jessica’s can build futures together.

Affordable housing can end someone’s experience of homelessness. The supportive services outlined in Measure 26-210 will keep our neighbors housed, resilient and connected.

At Central City Concern, we know providing comprehensive, wraparound services work to end people's homelessness. HereTogether, a coalition of more than 450 organizations, including CCC and other nonprofit service providers, people of color, people with lived experience of homelessness, elected officials, business leaders, faith communities and more has worked tirelessly to create this measure for the voters of our region.

Here are some examples of how the funds will be used:

  • Expanded case management, outreach services and clinical services.
  • Increased access to job training opportunities.
  • Long term rent assistance and eviction prevention; and
  • Expanded access to affordable, culturally responsive housing services.

A region wide problem requires a region wide solution with a region wide revenue stream.

By increasing our investments to this level, our community will be able to transform the reality of our chronic homeless crisis and improve the lived reality of tens of thousands of people who now live without a safe, stable home.

At Central City Concern, we know providing comprehensive, wraparound services work to end people's homelessness.

There are two actions you can take TODAY.

  1. Fill out your ballot and send it using the prepaid postage on the return envelope, or drop off your competed ballot to an Official Ballot Drop Site by 8 p.m. on May 19.
  1. Show your support for comprehensive, wraparound services that have been proven to end people's homelessness by donating to CCC.



Now is the Time for Bold Action to Invest in Solutions That Work

May 06, 2020

A message from Rachel Solotaroff, Central City Concern President & CEO


Those of us living in the Portland metropolitan region have received our ballots, and it couldn’t be a more important time to vote. One of the critical measures on our ballots is Measure 26-210. If approved, this measure will provide major new funding for homeless services in the Portland Metro area, including all of Multnomah and most parts of Washington and Clackamas counties.

I want to share with you why a YES vote is important to Central City Concern (CCC) and to me.

Measure 26-210 will raise an estimated $250,000,000 annually to fund homeless services, focusing on client-centered, wraparound, highly flexible services and economic opportunity. We know these services work to end people's homelessness because these are exactly the kind of services CCC provides. HereTogether, a coalition of more than 450 organizations, including CCC and other nonprofit service providers, people of color, people with lived experience of homelessness, elected officials, business leaders, faith communities and more, has worked tirelessly to create this measure for the voters of our region.

Flexible funding for supportive services and housing assistance means we can build person-centered plans and address the unique needs of the people struggling most in our communities. CCC has been building integrated programs in spite of our funding systems that often require services be strictly limited and siloed.

Measure 26-210 will raise an estimated $250,000,000 annually to fund homeless services, focusing on client-centered, wraparound, highly flexible services and economic opportunity. We know these services work to end people's homelessness because these are exactly the kind of services CCC provides.

There are up to 12,000 people experiencing homelessness across the tri-county region, people like a client of ours, “Jennie.” Jennie was sleeping on the streets, struggling with substance use, mental health and physical health challenges when she met the Community Engagement Program (CEP). CEP is the kind of program Measure 26-210 seeks to scale up, providing both supportive services and housing. Jennie was able to get both a transitional and a permanent housing placement, treatment for her addiction and mental health, a new wheelchair to replace her broken one, assistance in paying back debt, new friendships and reconnections to her family. She’s still engaged with her case manager to support long-term stability and she’s doing great! We need to assist the many Jennie’s out there facing multiple barriers which current silos of limited funding often don’t allow.

A region wide problem requires a region wide solution with a region wide revenue stream.

By increasing our investments to this level, our community will be able to transform the reality of our chronic homeless crisis and improve the lived reality of tens of thousands of people who now live without a safe, stable home.

The measure will be paid for by two revenue streams in the Metro area. 1) High income earners tax: 1% marginal tax on taxable income over $200,000 (household) or $125,000 (single). Ninety percent (90%) of individuals are exempt from this tax. 2) Tax on large businesses: 1% business net profits tax exempts small and medium size businesses with gross income up to $5 million. Ninety-four (94%) of businesses are exempt. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted how many people in our communities have been living without proper care and stability. With talks of budget cuts looming, this new funding for homeless services is needed now more than ever.

Thank you for your dedication and compassion to the people of Portland and our community. I’m asking you to support Measure 26-210. You can learn more here and help spread the word about Measure 26-210.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted how many people in our communities have been living without proper care and stability. With talks of budget cuts looming, this new funding for homeless services is needed now more than ever.

There are two actions you can take TODAY. You can fill out your ballot and send it using the prepaid postage on the return envelope, or drop off your competed ballot to an Official Ballot Drop Site by 8 p.m. on Election Day. You can also show your support for comprehensive, wraparound services that have been proven to end people's homelessness by donating to CCC

 

Join me and vote YES on Measure 26-210. Let’s take bold action together.



Spreading the Human Connection

May 04, 2020

Six months ago, Ralph was addicted to meth and alcohol and running out of chances with his family. Today, he’s in recovery and making face shields for local hospital workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Ralph had tried hospital-based detoxification programs in the past, but they never stuck. The game-changer was Central City Concern’s Recovery Mentor Program and his treatment counselor, Robert (Bobby) Tsow.

“Without CCC, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Ralph said. “I’d be in jail or I’d be dead.”

The process for Ralph started at CCC’s Hooper Detoxification and Stabilization Center, where he spent ten days withdrawing from meth and alcohol while receiving around-the-clock care. From there, a peer mentor drove Ralph directly to CCC’s Madrona Studios, a supportive housing program where he would live while completing intensive outpatient therapy through the CCC Recovery Center.

For the next four months, Ralph would work hard toward recovery – this time, with the long-term support he had been missing in his past experiences with detoxification and sobriety.

Ralph checked in with his program mentor every day, participated in support groups and attended daily meetings of Narcotics Anonymous. He received primary care treatment at Old Town Clinic, mental health therapy and regular sessions with his counselor, Bobby. He did homework and developed new tools for coping with anger, stress and thoughts of using. He found purpose through the CCC Community Volunteer Corps, which let him give back to the community after feeling like a “taker” for so long.


Then the coronavirus pandemic put an end to in-person meetings and gatherings, risking the social connections that had been foundational to Ralph’s recovery. But CCC developed new plans and protocols to adapt to the unprecedented situation, ensuring that the networks of support that clients like Ralph rely on would remain strong.

Most of Ralph’s counseling sessions with Bobby moved to the phone instead of face-to-face, and his regular recovery meetings changed as well. But Ralph also had a phone list of supporters to call on, a mentor, Zoom meetings – in addition to the groundwork he had already laid. He didn’t feel alone.

“The Recovery Mentor Program gave me all the tools I needed to stay in contact,” said Ralph.

When Ralph graduated from treatment in April, he had a quiet ceremony with just Bobby present. But he still felt proud. He knew he’d met a big goal.

Bobby was proud of Ralph, too. “He was hungry for recovery and a new way of living – open, teachable and willing,” Bobby said.

“The Recovery Mentor Program gave me all the tools I needed to stay in contact.”

After his graduation, Ralph shared that he was looking for a job, and a fellow member of the program made a connection for him. He worked with an Employment Specialist at CCC’s Employment Access Center to put together a professional resume – and he landed the position. Now, Ralph works the nightshift at a company producing face shields for front line hospital workers.

“I’m in a position to reach out and help others,” he said. It feels good when he returns home to his apartment after work.

Thanks to CCC’s dedicated staff and compassionate donors, Ralph has been able to stay on the path to long-term recovery during this time of turmoil. “I have my life back,” said Ralph.


When you make a donation to our COVID-19 Emergency Fund, you are giving the gift of human connection to individuals transitioning away from homelessness and addiction. With your support, we are strengthening the bonds that will keep us all connected through COVID-19 and beyond. Please make a gift today.