Get Out the Vote!

Oct 20, 2020

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is the general election.

You have until October 27 to safely return your ballot by mail, so now is the time to vote. After October 27, be sure to get your ballot to your nearest drop box to make sure it's turned in on time and counted. If you're outside the Portland metro area, use this statewide drop box locator.

CCC's Public Policy Director, Mercedes Elizalde, mailing in her ballot.

CCC believes voting is important, civic involvement and using your voice through voting is critical. Remember to vote the whole ballot. There are many important races and measures for you to consider.

CCC has endorsed two statewide measures on the November ballot. Both are critical to serving our communities:

  • YES on Measure 110 - Drug Treatment and Recovery Act. Measure 110 decriminalizes simple possession of illegal drugs and reallocates some marijuana taxes towards recovery services and treatment. We need a health care approach to health care needs. This is an opportunity to put more funds into recovery services. With the impacts of COVID-19 and the economic downturn, we need to protect and invest in treatment and recovery. 
  • YES on Measure 108 - Yes for a Healthy Future. Measure 108 raises new funds for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) through a dedicated increase in tobacco taxes. OHP is one of the most important safety net services our community has to offer. Keeping OHP financially sound ensures more people can find stability in their health care. OHP is a lifeline in our state, allowing people to access primary care, dental care and behavioral health supports, at a time when health care is needed now more than ever. 

Earlier this month CCC hosted candidate forums for the City of Portland races. You can listen into the candidates discuss homelessness, economic stability, housing and community safety.


If you have not received your ballot, or if you have misplaced it you can get a replacement. Check your Multnomah County Elections Department for details and any other questions you might have to make sure your vote is counted.

Make a PLAN. Be PREPARED. VOTE by November 3!



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.



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.



Toward Greater Integration & Coordination with CCC's 2020 Policy Agenda

Jan 30, 2020

With the 2020 Oregon legislative session set to begin on Feb. 3, our public policy team is hitting the ground running with a bold set of policy priorities rooted in our belief that ending homelessness requires a coordinated approach to address housing access, health and well-being, economic resiliency and social connectedness. Our policy advocacy work in 2020 is guided by the following goals:

  • Prioritizing an integrated approach across systems, funders and delivery points.
  • Supporting policy initiatives that center people with lived experience.
  • Recognizing a sustainable and skilled workforce is the foundation of successful interventions.
  • Seeking solution-oriented advocacy efforts that adequately fund the programs and solutions that are effective in ending homelessness and addressing poverty.

The 2020 public policy agenda was developed after a review of last year’s activities and interviews with staff, clients and former clients. These conversations helped us better understand the challenges people face on the path toward self-sufficiency, as well as the successful interventions that should be scaled for greater impact.

Housing was the number one issue facing people in 2019 and the same is true going into 2020. The problem isn’t that we don’t know how to address homelessness, the problem is our systems were built for far fewer people than the number that are in need of services. In 2020, we will look at how to make the deep investments needed to change the course on the housing affordability crisis. We know housing paired with rent assistance and support services create the foundation that sets people up for success. Locally, we can make a bigger impact through deep investments in specific key areas, such as permanent supportive housing and stabilizing recovery housing.

In 2020 we are bringing a more integrated approach to our advocacy around health care. While in 2019, we had separate policy focus areas for recovery and health care services, this year we are following the lead of our clinicians by fully integrating health care. Our advocacy around mental health, physical health, substance use disorder treatment and long term recovery will be a collective call for improved access, quality and connectedness. When we talk to our government partners, we will not talk about health in pieces, but rather as a complete unit of care able to meet the diversity of people’s needs.

In 2019, we had a policy focus looking at stabilization, but after a year of work and more input from our community it is clear that we need to be striving for more than just stability. Stability is a first step to the longer road of social and economic opportunity, both for the people we serve and for our workforce. The incredible champions we have working at Central City Concern and other service organizations deserve to be valued by the systems we work under, and in 2020 we will be advocating for workforce investments while at the same time advocating for the people we serve.

A few of the specific things we will be advocating for:

State –

  • HB 4002: Statewide housing rent assistance program to help people and families experiencing homelessness afford housing
  • SB 1153: Co-occurring disorder treatment reforms to better integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment
  • HB 4067: Creating more affordable utility rates for low-income households
  • 1115 Medicaid Waiver to include funding for recovery support in community and in housing

Locally –

  • More funding for supportive services in affordable housing, especially including education, training and employment support
  • Prioritizing people existing institutional settings like state hospital, incarceration and in-patient treatment for supportive housing placement
  • Equitable Transit Oriented Development that includes deeply affordable housing, open space and commercial space for community based organizations

We hope you’ll join us in supporting policies and investments that will bolster our work to bring greater integration and support for our neighbors experiencing and exiting homelessness. Check in on our Advocacy and Public Policy page to learn more about how you can get involved.




2019 Sandy Anderson Award Winner: A True Listener and Advocate

Dec 12, 2019

Every winter since 2015, members of Central City Concern’s Health Services Advisory Council (HSAC) have gotten together to choose a deserving recipient for the Sandy Anderson Award. The award is a heartfelt recognition given by the group to a CCC staff member who:

  • Is always person-centered in their interactions with consumers.
  • Puts the needs and goals of consumers first.
  • Listens deeply and sees and hears beyond how people might seem on the surface.
  • Is collaborative and solves problems with us instead of for us.
  • Keeps long-term care goals in mind while also meeting people where they are.
  • Can instill hope, no matter what.

This year, HSAC bestowed the award to Leslie Tallyn, CCC’s director of quality. Leslie has been the lead staff member attending HSAC meetings since 2013, walking alongside the group through many changes and new faces within both HSAC and at CCC.

“I’m humbled and deeply touched to receive this award. I admire the other Sandy Anderson Award recipients so much, and being in their company is an honor,” Leslie said.

According to HSAC members, Leslie has been the ideal bridge between CCC’s health care consumers and CCC’s services. With a deep understanding that CCC can only improve our services by acknowledging and responding to our clients’ whole experiences, Leslie has encouraged transparency and honesty. As someone who is deeply embedded in our clinic operations, she is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people at CCC about why we do things the way we do them. And according to HSAC members, there’s no one better at explaining that in terms that all HSAC members can understand.

Leslie doesn’t just take in what she hears. HSAC members commend her for being incredibly proactive about following up on topics that come up during meetings and sharing how clinic staff received and responded to their feedback.

Above all, HSAC shares, Leslie is kind and thoughtful, and she truly listens. For six years, they’ve trusted her to pave the road for consumer-driven changes and improvements. As a clinic that serves a patient population familiar with feeling marginalized or ill-served by the mainstream health care system, finding someone like Leslie — a genuine listener, a supportive advocate and trustworthy collaborator — is worth celebrating.

“Our HSAC members volunteer their time to help improve the quality of care we provide and the experiences of the people we serve,” Leslie shared. “Centering the experiences and voices of consumers is vital to our mission, and I’m grateful to have had the privilege of supporting our HSAC members’ service to CCC over the past six years.”

The list of previous CCC awardees reveals the high honor and regard in which they hold all Sandy Anderson awardees. Sandy Anderson, was CCC’s first pharmacist who became a beacon of kindness and compassion to thousands of OTC patients. She was the first to receive the award named for her; other recipients include Carol Weber, a care team manager who has served our patients for more than 15 years and Old Town Recovery Center psychiatrist Phil Shapiro, whose counseling and guidance around healing has changed countless lives.

There’s no doubt that Leslie fits right in to such esteemed company.



National Leader Visits CCC, Portland

Nov 06, 2019

Compassion in action was one thing Bobby Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC), witnessed firsthand while visiting Portland recently. Bobby was in town to deliver the keynote speech at Central City Concern’s (CCC’s) Compassion in Action luncheon on Oct. 15, 2019. The mission of the council, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., is to eliminate homelessness by ensuring comprehensive health care and secure housing for everyone. CCC is one of about 300 council members.

Bobby said he didn’t hesitate for a minute when CCC asked him to come. He attended the Compassion in Action luncheon two years ago when Ed Blackburn, then CCC’s president and CEO, was honored just before he retired. “I had heard of Central City Concern through the years, but the first time I got to see it in action was immediately after this luncheon two years ago when [two CCC staff members] took me on a tour of the clinic and some of the housing programs. I was immediately totally blown away.” He saw that CCC was doing some things that no one else was doing, as well as many things better than most others are doing. He decided then and there that NHCHC was going to rely on CCC.

He spoke about compassion as “a sympathetic consciousness of another’s distress, along with a desire to alleviate it…. It’s taking our eyes off of ourselves and putting them on the needs of others.” It’s not just being aware, he says, it’s wanting to do something about it.

“One of the great values of America is we want everyone to reach their full potential, but how can you reach your potential if you don’t have a place to live?” he asked.

“I want to emphasize what a leader Central City Concern is in solving homelessness, not just in Portland, but across the country."

Bobby had toured Blackburn Center that morning and talked about what programs work for solving homelessness: subsidized housing, health care for people experiencing homeless, supportive housing, medical respite, a Housing First approach, trauma-informed care, harm reduction and addressing racism. CCC integrates all these ideas into what Bobby calls compassionate, competent care. “I want to emphasize what a leader Central City Concern is in solving homelessness, not just in Portland, but across the country,” he said.

While Bobby was in Portland, he also met with Vanetta Abdellatif, Integrated Clinical Services Director at Multnomah County Health Department, and went out on rounds one night with Drew Grabham, LCSW, a social worker for Portland Street Medicine.

“I am very, very hopeful that we can solve homelessness,” he said. “We know what we need to do. We know we have great programs with competent compassion that are effective, like Central City Concern. But what makes an organization work is the people. Central City Concern is staffed with people who make that human connection that makes all the difference in the world.”



CCC Walks for Recovery

Oct 01, 2019

Central City Concern (CCC) wrapped up National Recovery Month on a powerful note this past Saturday, Sept. 28, at the second annual Walk for Recovery, where members of the Portland recovery community and their families united to improve Oregon’s fractured and incomplete addiction recovery system.

CCC staff and clients, along with their friends, family and hundreds of other community members and organizations, took part in the two-mile walk from southwest to northwest Portland, which felt more like a political march than a fundraising event. Key legislators and decision makers helped kick off the walk at an opening rally, sharing words of encouragement to participants about why mobilizing to address addiction is so important. Representatives from Oregon Recovers, which organized the Walk for Recovery, emphasized the goal of building a movement of people in recovery in order to drive widespread support for addiction prevention and treatment across Oregon.

During the walk, as participants passed by multiple addiction treatment and help centers — including CCC’s own CCC Recovery Center, Imani Center and Old Town Recovery Center programs — they proudly help up hand-made signs with messages of encouragement to those in recovery and calls to action for elected officials to increase access to treatment.

One of the largest contingents at the Walk for Recovery was made up of staff, clients and alumni of Puentes, CCC’s culturally specific recovery program for Spanish speakers. Ricardo Verdeguez, a recovery mentor and drug and alcohol counselor at Puentes, highlighted a significant barrier in recovery services: the lack of Spanish-language treatment programs.

"Today I have a life and I have a family because I am in recovery."

“After 30 years of battling addiction, there was no treatment for me as a third-generation Latino,” Ricardo shared during his speech at the Walk for Recovery rally. “I found treatment with Central City Concern and I’m grateful, because they have culturally specific treatment. Today I have a life and I have a family because I am in recovery.”

Puentes’ large presence at the Walk for Recovery was fitting, where increasing access to recovery services was a reoccurring theme. Oregon ranks 50th in the country — last place — in access to treatment. Puentes has worked hard to welcome Portland’s Spanish-speakers into a culturally responsive community where things like language, country of origin and documentation status are not barriers to beginning and maintaining a life in recovery. While much work remains in breaking barriers to preventing and treating addiction, we are proud to serve the Latino recovery community through our Puentes program.

With hundreds of Portlanders in attendance and over $100,000 raised to improve Oregon’s addiction recovery system, the Walk for Recovery was a success that CCC was thrilled to be a part of. While National Recovery Month might be over, our work to bring hope and healing to those struggling with addiction continues with the same determination and fire we witnessed during the weekend’s events.



CCC Public Policy Mid-year Update

Jul 23, 2019

In December 2018 Central City Concern’s (CCC) Executive Leadership Team and the Board of Directors approved the 2019 CCC Public Policy Agenda, intended to guide our public policy and advocacy engagement efforts. Since then, CCC has sought engagement opportunities for staff, clients, residents and patients that aligned with the agenda. Dozens of staff and nearly 100 current and former clients have participated in advocacy activities across local and regional efforts, Oregon’s 2019 state legislative session and the 116th Congress and federal administration.

During the first six months of the year the state legislative session has dominated our public policy team’s attention; we reviewed and tracked more than 40 bills through the legislative process. Dialogue about any of our policy focus areas often circled back to two main issues: affordable housing and the needs of communities impacted by the criminal justice system. For example, the State of Oregon is currently working on a waiver update to the substance use disorder 1115 Medicaid waiver. When this effort was initially announced in January 2019, housing was not part of the expected changes; seven months later, we expect supportive housing and better engagement with reentry populations for the purpose of improving access to substance use disorder treatment.

Our public policy team, other staff and clients have also participated in a number of legislative activities since the beginning of the year:

City of Portland passed the Fair Access in Renting (FAIR) ordinance

  • Two CCC staff members attended regular meeting for seven months to support the crafting of this legislation
  • CCC’s Flip the Script program staff and participants provided public testimony and a joint letter of support during the council’s review of the legislation

Multnomah County Budget hearings

  • 100 clients and former clients from the Recovery Mentor Program, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD® program) and Puentes attended to advocate for substance use disorder treatment, mental health care and housing investments
  • Eight clients and former clients provided direct testimony to county commissioners

State legislative session

  • CCC staff, clients and program alumni took 31 meetings with 14 of the 17 legislators that represent CCC programs/properties and sent in more than 140 emails to senators and representatives
  • CCC’s Health Service Advisory Council, a group of current patients, sent a budget letter seeking more funding for behavioral health and palliative care
  • Staff and clients participated in four lobby days with our community partners at, the Housing Alliance, Partnership for Safety and Justice, Oregon Primary Care Association and Oregon Council for Behavioral Health
  • Staff provided public comment at five committee hearings to advocate for palliative care, supportive employment, opposing criminalization of homelessness, supportive housing and self-sufficiency/wraparound services for families on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Significant state budget and policy changes for which CCC advocated include:
     
    • – $334 million in new revenue for Oregon Health Plan
    • – $13 million to increase reimbursement rates for behavioral health
    • – $54.5 million capital and rental subsidy investment for permanent supportive housing
    • – $20 million for TANF recipients to access stable housing, employment and behavioral health services in addition to standard TANF benefits
    • – Substance use disorder was declared a chronic illness to support more health focused responses over criminalization
    • – 1% increase in the Oregon state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income families
  • CCC sent in letters to the federal registry opposing federal administrative changes that will hurt our communities

    • Public Charge: CCC opposes the federal government changing its policy on how low-income immigrant communities can use social services, including access to urgent care clinics and food stamps. While the “public charge” rule has been in place for several decades, the current administration seeks to make it even more penalizing for community members to seek assistance in times of crisis. We believe the current rule is burdensome enough and doesn’t need to increase targeting of low-income communities.
    • Mixed Status in affordable housing: CCC opposes evicting immigrant families from subsidized housing. Current rules prohibit non-citizens (including immigrants in the US with legal status) from using housing benefits. The current rules allow for parents of citizens or spouses of citizens receiving housing benefits to also reside in the same home. The current administration seeks to remove allowances for families to stay together in the same household even if the non-citizen member is not receiving the housing assistance directly.

    CCC advocated for some bills, including SB 179 for Palliative Care and HB 2310 for supported employment, that were not successful this session and we are committed to continuing the work needed to make these services available to those most in need. In the big picture, we saw great movement toward solutions for the communities we serve during this first half of the year.

    There is always more work to be done and more advocacy that will be needed to secure the future we know our communities deserve. For the remainder of the year we will stay focused on our priorities, including the Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO) 2.0 roll out, funding for Community Health Centers in the federal budget ($1.68 billion), ensuring equitable access to housing developed by funds from the Metro Bond, additional improvements to our criminal justice system and the statewide strategic plan for improving access to substance use disorder treatment.

    As we move forward, we aim to involve friends and supporters of CCC even more in our advocacy work! Check in regularly with our newly refreshed Advocacy and Public Policy page to find out what we're working on. You can also sign up below for our periodic advocacy emails to learn about ways to get involved, including attending meetings, contacting elected officials and spreading awareness about the legislative issues that affect those we serve.   

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Trans Awareness Week 2018

Nov 13, 2018

This week is Trans Awareness Week, a time to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and to shed light on issues the community faces. The week leads up to Trans Day of Remembrance on Tuesday, Nov. 20, a deeply important observance to honor the memory of those whose lives have been lost to anti-trans violence.

During the past year, Central City Concern has moved forward in our work to ensure that our programs and services, as well as our staff members, are safe, welcoming and inclusive of our transgender and gender non-confirming clients. We’re on a journey to become the organization we’ve envisioned ourselves to be—and truly believe that we become. But that means a lot listening and learning, and of course acting, to make meaningful strides forward.

There are several events in the Portland metro area that mark Trans Awareness Week, all leading up to the Trans Day of Remembrance. Descriptions are from the event hosts:

Friday, Nov. 16

WontBeErasedPDX Call to Action: We will hold spaces for autonomous action from the community, and for people to come together with friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers, schoolmates, and other trusted comrades to plan peaceful direct actions. (Link)

Saturday, Nov. 17

Trans Action and Care Conference 2018: 2018 will mark the second annual Transgender Action & Care Conference (TACC) held at Portland State University! The Conference will take place Saturday, November 17th from 10:00-4:00 PM in the Smith Student Memorial Building (1825 SW Broadway). TACC is part of November's Trans Empowerment Resistance & Resilience Days, which celebrate and empower transgender, non-binary, gender-expansive, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people and communities. This year's theme is "WE DEMAND MORE," inspired by the idea that trans people deserve more than just mere survival. We invite attendees to imagine a world where gender diversity is actively honored, rather than memorialized - and we get our roses while we're still here. (Link)

Monday, Nov. 19

Remember Us: Trans History of the PNW: Please join us for an interactive, educational workshop focusing on trans history. You will come away from this event feeling more connected to both our collective history and your own place in it. (Link)

Tuesday, Nov. 20

Trans Diaspora of Resilience: Born out of a shared frustration with white-dominated Trans spaces, Ori Gallery is partnering with Forward Together & Sankofa Collective Northwest to bring you a night of celebrating our Transcestors, eachother and visions of a better future than the one we've been handed.

The evening will feature a pop-up exhibition of Trans Artists of Color, hella food, bomb music, TPoC performers and a community altar space for you to contribute to. (Link)

Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial Service: A memorial service in the Quaker tradition will include silent centering, reading of the names of those murdered in the US in the past year, a releasing fire and opportunity to share reflections (Link)

Butterflies: A Trans Day of Remembrance Youth Drag Show: Butterflies: A Transgender Day of Remembrance Youth Drag Show is a youth-organized and youth-performed drag show both honoring the transgender people we have lost and celebrating the transgender people that are still here, with a focus on transgender youth. This drag show is supportive of nonbinary individuals, gender non-conformity, and people of color. Hosted by the fabulous Heiress Cleopatra. (Link)

Wednesday, Nov. 21

Trans Day of Resistance: Let’s use the occasion of trans remembrance this month to build the TRANS RESISTANCE. Let’s use this community meeting as a jumping-off point for a coordinated movement against right-wing attacks and for fully-funded social programming, housing, Medicare for all, and other crucial priorities for the trans community and all working and oppressed people. (Link)

 



Celebrating Black History Month: Flip the Script

Feb 28, 2018

Happy Black History Month from Central City Concern! As the month comes to a close, we’re grateful for the opportunity for our community to learn about, learn from, and celebrate the countless Black heroes and heroines who paved the way for African Americans to live a life of freedom, opportunity and fully realized potential.

As an organization, CCC strives to embody this work that came before us, notably through our programs ensuring our African Americans clients have access to services that recognize and address historic inequities and systemic barriers, while also meeting individualized needs.

Programs like Flip the Script (FTS), a reentry program started in February 2017 that provides individuals exiting incarceration with dedicated housing, employment services, peer support, and opportunities for reentry system advocacy. The program helps people avoid reoffending and eases their path to reintegrating into society as productive community members.

Patrick spent 15 years in prison. After he had served his time, he knew that he'd need support to reintegrate back into society.FTS found its origins in a data collaboration between Multnomah County's Joint Office of Homeless Services and the Department of Community Justice, CCC, and a tireless CCC volunteer. The assessment found not only that African American clients disproportionately experienced recidivism, but also that recidivism rates were cut in half in individuals who exited CCC’s transitional reentry housing to a renter housing situation with full-time employment.

Patrick A. was on the cusp of becoming a free man after having spent more than a third of his life—15 years—in prison. When he was released, Patrick immediately came up against barriers to reintegration. Background check issues and employment gaps made it difficult for him to find a job; his lack of rental history made it nearly impossible to find housing. With his criminal history, few people outside his family wanted to reconnect; the ones who did were those still in the game, ready to draw him back in. Without ready paths to housing, employment and new positive relationships, Patrick could have easily been on the wrong side of these recidivism statistics.

The assessment found not only that African American clients disproportionately experienced recidivism, but also that recidivism rates were cut in half in individuals who exited CCC’s transitional reentry housing to a renter housing situation with full-time employment.

But Patrick was intent on choosing a new path. He was resolute on putting his head down and forging ahead, even if that meant feeling isolated. “To me, going back to jail wasn’t an option for me anymore. I did my time. That part of my life was done. I had a game plan in my head.”

He still needed support to get where he wanted to go.

The Multnomah County's Assessment & Referral Center eventually sent Patrick to CCC’s Parole Transition Program (PTP), which included housing at the Shoreline building. At his lease signing, he met a PTP staff member who told him about FTS, which would make him eligible for the CCC Employment Access Center’s (EAC) intensive one-on-one employment services, peer support and other opportunities. Patrick enrolled.

One of the first things a new enrollee like Patrick does is connect with an FTS Employment Specialist, who helps create a customized plan to help each person work toward their employment goals and develops other opportunities to enhance the client’s vocational skills in order to become a competitive job seeker. More determined than ever and invigorated by having a safe place to call home—“I’ve got my own space, so now I can figure out what to do with myself and my next step,” he recalls thinking—Patrick actually secured a job on his own within two days of moving into CCC housing, before he even met with his employment specialist, Elissa.

Patrick’s next goal was to make his way into the local carpenters' union, and he knew he couldn’t do it alone. So he connected with Elissa, in whom he found the type of support he hadn’t felt in a long time. Elissa was able to assist Patrick with FTS resources that helped him pay for his driver’s license fees and work clothes while he continued to make connections at the union.

"That was the first time in a long time I felt somebody was actually there to listen to what I had inside me to say instead of just saying ‘okay’ and directing me. I felt more valued, like my opinion does matter. "

“I felt supported. That was the first time in a long time I felt somebody was actually there to listen to what I had inside me to say instead of just saying ‘okay’ and directing me. I felt more valued, like my opinion does matter. They treated me as a person, not just somebody who got out of jail.”

Three months after moving into CCC’s transitional reentry housing, Patrick applied for and received permanent housing, making him part of the 58 percent of FTS clients who exit into permanent housing. (Another 21 percent of FTS clients find another transitional housing opportunity.)

Patrick catches up with Billy A., the FTS advocacy coordinator (left) and Elissa, his employment specialist (right), at CCC's downtown Employment Access Center.

Soon after, Patrick was accepted into Carpenters Local 1503, opening the door for him to make an honest living with good wages. Since FTS started, 45 percent of FTS clients have used the program as a springboard to permanent housing and a source of income. (An additional 9 percent of clients moved into further transitional housing with an income source.)

Recognizing his need for a new network of positive peers, Patrick also connected with the FTS Advocacy Coordinator, Billy, who introduced him to the FTS Advocacy Work Team. Ask any of the dozen FTS clients who participate in this culturally specific group of African Americans and they’ll all agree: there’s something special happening here. When they meet, they create a space to speak candidly about their journeys and their experiences that are unique to being an African American community member trying to make their way back into society.

Together, they’ve created a survey to help identify areas for improvement and change in both the FTS program and larger landscape of reentry systems and policy. Though they may face barriers to employment and housing based on racial bias or discrimination in the justice system, they see that they’re not alone and feel empowered by the change they can take together. They are actively part of the work to disrupt the system that sets up a disproportionate number of African Americans to experience recidivism.

When they meet, they create a space to speak candidly about their journeys and their experiences that are unique to being an African American community member trying to make their way back into society.

“[The work group] gives me a chance to help other people and share my understanding as someone coming with firsthand reentry. It’s nice to be around other people going through the same thing you’re going through. And it’s nice that the others have the same understanding. Sometimes you don’t feel like explaining everything and they already understand what you mean,” Patrick says. “It also feels good to be around people who just want to meet you and know you and are just glad you’re doing well."

Initially shy and slow to trust, Patrick is no longer nervous or quiet. Instead, Patrick is confident and outspoken, especially in advocacy matters. He’s an active member of the group, finding a sense of community he’d been missing for so long. He has also reconnected with his family and is working to build relationships again.

“Going back to jail isn’t an option for me anymore. I did my time. That part of my life is done. I feel I’ve got a lot ahead of me. I’ve got a lot left to accomplish. I feel positive and optimistic about my future. I’m eager to see what I’ve got in store.”

• • •

Deep gratitude to Meyer Memorial Trust, A Home for Everyone, Multnomah County, County Chair Deborah Kafoury, County Commissioner Loretta Smith, Deputy Truls Neal and Wells Fargo for their support and belief in this program dedicated to eliminating the disparities that exist within our criminal justice system.