Celebrating One Year of Blackburn Center

Jun 30, 2020

In July 2019, Blackburn Center opened its doors to patients and job-seekers — weeks after welcoming nearly 100 residents to their new, affordable homes. This moment was the culmination of years of dreaming, planning and designing a first-of-its-kind, deeply integrated care model. Finally, CCC's signature services, from housing to health care to employment assistance, would all be available under one roof.

A group of Blackburn Center staff celebrated their first resident moving into housing in June, 2019 with a playful birthday cake. In many ways, Blackburn Center felt like a birthing process, and staff wanted to commemorate the building's first days of existence!

The hard work didn't end with opening the doors to Blackburn Center, and it continues each day as we connect with clients and deepen our roots in the East Portland community.

Since opening, Blackburn has served:

  • 214 residents
  • 1,956 health patients
  • 68 job-seekers

As we celebrate one year of Blackburn Center, we also celebrate every individual who has walked through our doors seeking housing, health care, recovery support, employment, or any combination of our services. One of those individuals is Charlette, who came to Blackburn Center as soon as it opened seeking a new path. Today, we're celebrating two anniversaries: one year of recovery for Charlette and one year of services at Blackburn Center.

Charlette was one of the first people to walk into the newly opened Blackburn Center in 2019. Now she's celebrating one year in recovery!

Charlette was homeless and addicted to heroin for six years — living in cars, sleeping in bus stops or just walking around all night. Then, six friends died of overdoses in one week. That was when she knew she had to turn her life around.

Charlette was one of the first people to walk into CCC’s new Blackburn Center. Within a single day, Charlette:

  • Saw a primary care provider, who treated her for her chronic thyroid condition 
  • Saw a psychiatric nurse practitioner, who started her on buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone) for acute opioid withdrawal 
  • Immediately filled her buprenorphine prescription via the Blackburn Pharmacy 

Over the next few weeks, Charlette saw a drug counselor and became active in groups and one-on-one counseling. She was also one of the first residents of Blackburn’s alcohol- and drugfree transitional housing.

“Having my housing and health care together in one building is a big thing!” Charlette says. “I can just go right downstairs and get my Suboxone at the pharmacy, or go to a group meeting, without ever leaving the building. That’s huge.”

Within less than six months, Charlette graduated from her outpatient program and, guided by Blackburn’s on-site employment specialist, began training as an on-call employee in CCC buildings.

“Having my housing and health care together in one building is a big thing!”

One year later and Charlette has stable housing, is working at CCC's Letty Owings Center, and has one full year of recovery under her belt.

Clearly, the full slate of services available at Blackburn Center is working well for Charlette. She says, “I’m paying back everything that CCC has given me by being a success. That’s exactly what I want to be.”

Celebrating Juneteenth & Freedom Day

Jun 17, 2020

June 19 marks Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day), a holiday commemorating the abolishment of slavery in 1865 in Texas and the Confederate South, two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

These events eventually resulted in the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which states:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

What followed Emancipation was the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration, discriminatory housing policies and a lack of economic investment in Black communities. Although Juneteenth is a day to celebrate freedom and equality, African Americans have experienced hundreds of years of racial discrimination and injustices, and have yet to enjoy full freedom from slavery.

The events of the past several weeks have only amplified these disparities. The murder of George Floyd is another example of racist violence stemming from the roots of our country. This violence takes its form not only in the killing of Black lives and other people of color by police, but in the deep injustices we see across our systems of criminal justice, public safety, housing, education, health care and our public health systems. The protests taking place across the nation and globally, often with violent response by police, are an expression of centuries of that injustice.

Central City Concern (CCC) is dedicated to serving single adults and families in the Portland metro area who are impacted by homelessness, poverty and addictions; and to support them in achieving their dreams of stable housing, health and economic opportunities. We cannot achieve our mission under systems that perpetuate racialized violence and systematic oppression.

CCC offers the following culturally specific services and programs to the African American community:

  • Imani Center—Provides comprehensive approaches to mental health and addictions treatment for and by African Americans. The Center’s services empower clients to build community with other African Americans working toward recovery, with the support of staff members who have lived knowledge of Black culture and the African American experience.
  • Flip the Script (FTS)—CCC’s reentry program links individuals exiting incarceration to housing, employment services, peer connections and advocacy opportunities.

From a public policy framework, CCC works to center the voices of our Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) clients and those who have experience with the criminal justice system. Additionally, CCC proactively works on issues related to housing, integrated health care and social and economic opportunity.

From higher rates of poverty and food insecurity to unemployment and mass incarceration, recent events have highlighted deeply rooted issues in America: the continued existence of two histories, black and white, separate and unequal, and the stark, persisting impacts of discrimination.

Juneteenth is a holiday that should be recognized and honored by all in the United States. In our work of providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness, we are raising awareness and working towards uprooting policies, practices and behaviors that uphold systemic injustices and perpetuate conditions of poverty. We aim to build a society where everyone can thrive.

CCC Breaks Ground on New Affordable Housing Project with Wraparound Support

Jun 16, 2020

“Offering deeply affordable housing combined with comprehensive, wraparound services to our most vulnerable neighbors comes at a critical time in our region, when it’s needed now more than ever.”
— Mary-Rain O'Meara, Director of Housing Development at CCC

On June 11,Central City Concern and Related NW broke ground on a new project, Cedar Commons!

Cedar Commons moves CCC forward in our mission of serving the most vulnerable in our community, especially those facing severe mental health challenges. The project will be home to 60 new units of housing, forty of which will provide Permanent Supportive Housing services. Of those, ten units will serve people living with severe mental illness. The building will be located at SE 115th and SE Division, and is a turn-key venture with Related NW serving as the lead developer and CCC retaining full ownership and operations at completion (June 2021). Click here to download a Fact Sheet about the project.

“We’re thrilled to break ground on this new project,” says Mary-Rain O’Meara, CCC’s Director of Housing Development. “Offering deeply affordable housing combined with comprehensive, wraparound services to our most vulnerable neighbors comes at a critical time in our region, when it’s needed now more than ever.”

In a unique partnership, long-term operating subsidies are being provided by the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services, allowing CCC to support ongoing services. These include integrated health services, case management and enriched programs to maximize the well-being and health of residents. Additionally, we specifically located Cedar Commons within a mile of our Blackburn Center so that residents may take advantage of all the added wraparound services.

We’re excited by the name Cedar Commons, which was intentionally chosen for two especially important reasons:

  • Cedar is a reference to the historic prevalence of cedars in the area and the large Western Red Cedar on-site.
  • Cedar symbolizes healing, cleansing, resilience, support, strength and hope. 

This project is about hope, healing and coming home.

Celebrate with us — watch the video of the virtual groundbreaking. We’re looking forward to next June, when we’ll celebrate the grand opening and welcome residents to their new homes!

Supporter Highlight: Murdock Charitable Trust

Jun 09, 2020

CCC is thrilled to receive the support of M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust in our efforts to meet urgent needs during these challenging times. This generous grant of $100,000 will help CCC continue to deliver care in the face of challenges associated with COVID-19, including screening and testing costs, more intensive medical services, increased cleaning and safety protocols, technology for delivery of integrated health care via video, and the strain that social distancing and other safety measures put on our daily operations.

Thank you, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, for showing heartfelt compassion for those we serve and helping CCC meet our mission.

“Addressing challenges like those presented by the COVID-19 pandemic require a deep understanding of the unique needs of an individual community, an ability to nimbly activate resources and a willingness to collaborate with diverse partners to serve the common good. We are incredibly grateful to organizations like Central City Concern that are working tirelessly to help serve the urgent needs of individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest.”
Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust