In the past few months, Oregon Harbor of Hope, with support from donors including OCF’s Oregon Community Recovery Fund, has distributed thousands of tents, sleeping bags, and face masks around the Portland Metro region. Its mobile shower and laundry trucks offer a rare opportunity for people experiencing homelessness to access hygiene services through the pandemic. And they’re working on longer-term solutions, too.
In the same collaborative vein that Homer Williams witnessed in San Antonio, Harbor of Hope partners with dozens of other service providers in the region and readily shares procured resources. Tents and sleeping bags are dropped off at Portland Rescue Mission, Rose Haven, Street Roots, and even as far away as the Troutdale Police Department. Surgical grade masks are given to area hospitals, while the non-surgical masks are distributed at campsites and to people working for nonprofit organizations. Homer believes in supporting other organizations engaged in work around homelessness. “There are so many good people on the front lines. The quality of people who work in this space—you just can’t believe it,” Homer recounted, quickly adding praise for his own team including co-founder Don Mazziotti, Lisa Marandas, Marissa Cade, Matt Bordonaro and Susan Gadotti. “This is a team effort.”
COVID has delivered a fierce economic blow, and it’s reflected in the increasing need. “We are seeing different faces at the trucks and in the food lines,” Homer said. “Some of these are people who have never been in a food line in their lives.”
People of color, already disproportionately impacted by housing insecurity, have also been harder hit both economically and by the health impacts of COVID. “We have a structural issue, and we need to address it. Everybody deserves a safe place to sleep, they deserve hygiene, healthcare, and food—those are the basics of life,” Homer said.
Read the full article here: https://oregoncf.org/community-impact/community-stories/hygiene-and-housing-how-oregon-harbor-of-hope-is-bridging-the-gap-through-the-pandemic/