Dear Friends and Neighbors,

No one who has served their country should be left to sleep on our streets.

But hundreds of veterans are left homeless each year in Multnomah County. The causes are many including rising rents and a lack of good paying jobs.

Multnomah County formed a partnership with the cities of Portland and Gresham, Home Forward and the Meyer Memorial Trust to reduce administrative costs, close gaps in services, and reduce homelessness on our streets.

This year we set out an ambitious goal: find a home for 690 homeless vets.

We are well on our way to meeting that goal. As of July we've housed 385 veterans -- many of whom have experienced chronic homelessness.

Dozens of landlords across the county are helping us identify homes for the rest of the homeless veterans in our community. I want to specifically thank Home Forward, Multnomah County's housing authority, for their significant commitment to this effort. But we still need help.

If you have a rental unit, an apartment or if your company manages apartments, we need your participation in this worthy community effort. Please contact Mary Carroll at mary.carroll@multco.us or 503-988-6796 or visit multco.us/home-every-veteran.

Your help could make all the difference.

Sincerely,

Deborah Kafoury

Partners celebrate 50 years of community health centers, open Bud Clark Clinic

On Aug. 12, about 85 community members and partners gathered to celebrate the opening of the Bud Clark Clinic, housed at the Bud Clark Commons in Portland. The event coincided with National Health Center Week, a celebration honoring the 50-year tradition of bringing care to low-income and uninsured people through community health centers.

At Wednesday's event, Chair Kafoury spoke about how the people behind community health centers work tirelessly to eliminate barriers and serve vulnerable communities.

She also touched on the humble beginnings of Multnomah County's community health centers.

"Our La Clinica de Buena Salud site began in a two-bedroom apartment," Kafoury told the large crowd. "The lab was in the kitchen. Our East County Health Center started in a former roller skating rink in Gresham. And while our facilities have improved - some of them are almost as nice as this one - the need and the commitment to meet that need still remains."

Now Multnomah County oversees medical, dental and pharmacy services in more than 20 clinics and schools. Each year they help people who may not have access to essential health services otherwise.

"We do all this and so much more," said Kafoury. "Long before the Affordable Care Act made it possible for the hundreds of thousands of Oregonians to meet their basic health care needs, there were community health centers like these. No matter the color of your skin, how much money you make or where you slept last night, you can see a doctor at a community health clinic."

For the love of baby: Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

Mothers and soon-to-be mothers came from all over Multnomah County for a celebration in honor of  World Breastfeeding Week.

At the Northeast celebration, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) staffer Elizabeth Bull manned a booth with a breastfeeding version of Wheel of Fortune. But in this game, the answer to every question is "yes" and the winner received a free Subway sandwich shop coupon, free entry to a swimming pool or a water bottle.

Next to Ms. Bull, the team from the Mother and Child Education Center handed out flyers highlighting their offerings: free pregnancy tests, maternity clothes, diapers, and breastfeeding classes.

Nutrition assistant Brenulla White passed by carrying a platter of grapes, which she settled on to a table between a tower of pita bread and a bowl of bing cherries. Nearby Christina Aguilar sat quietly watching, a plate of food in her hand.

She's expecting her first child to be born any day. And she said she plans to breastfeed her child.

"It's the most natural choice and the most economical," she said. "It's practical. It helps me recover and it's good for the baby."

The Multnomah County Health Department's work through WIC has helped Oregon achieve some of the highest rates of breastfeeding in the nation.

Breastfeeding is a key strategy at preventing illness over a lifespan. Babies who breastfeed have lower rates of asthma and infections. As adults, they have lower rates of cancer and diabetes and obesity. It is beneficial for emotional and physical health.

Read full article here.

Culturally-specific meal program helps connect seniors with county services

From left: Momena Ogato; Semenu Michael; Medhen Gebredmedin; and Munit Kassa visit IRCO's Africa House every Thursday to socialize and enjoy the weekly meal service.

Every Thursday morning at 8:30, Habte Sequar and his wife take a bus to join about 20 senior immigrants from six African countries at Northeast Portland’s Africa House -- a community center managed by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). Sequar makes the trip to take part in the organization’s weekly food service. The food reminds him of his home country -- Eritrea -- which lies on Africa’s east coast and borders Ethiopia.

While Sequar waits for his food, he gets help learning English from IRCO staff that also speak Eritrean. He also gets to spend time with friends, and tend to fruits and vegetables in the community center’s garden. Meanwhile, his wife joins in on a knitting group with more than a dozen other women.

Around 12:30 p.m., the festive atmosphere is interrupted by an announcement. Lunch is ready. Like clockwork, volunteers lift the lids off six full-sized catering containers and dig into the food with serving spoons. One-by-one, visitors get in line and help themselves to beef seasoned with berbere spice, stewed yellow split peas, red lentils, steamed cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Rolls of injera -- a spongy flatbread staple -- are on the side.

“When I eat here, I feel so good,” Sequar says. “I used to eat this food all the time -- it reminds me of home.”

Read full article here.

Mobile Housing Team pushes to house homeless families

Ellon Manly pulls into the parking lot of a grocery store in Southeast Portland for an appointment. A woman in her mid-20s hops off a bike to meet her. The woman, who has dropped her three children at school, is experiencing homelessness and escaping from a domestic violence situation. It's 8 a.m. and she's hungry.

Manly is a mobile housing coordinator for Self Enhancement, Inc. She's one of six agency workers that belong to the Multnomah County Department of County Human Services-headed Mobile Housing Team. The Mobile Housing Team has been in operation for one year. Yet in that short span of time, it's already housed 328 families. The program brings together people from different social service agencies to work with families on a variety of housing-related issues, ranging from finding a place to live and getting furniture to working with a landlord and avoiding eviction.

When it comes to community resources, Manly knows plenty. She rattles off a list of services to the woman at the grocery store: an organization that can offer her behavioral health counseling, a co-worker who can help her build a resume and find a job, and a referral for a safe place to stay. She even offers to go with her.

"Every family is unique," Manly says. "There's often success in the end. I just need to do whatever it takes to get them there."

Read full article here.