October 19, 2012

Dear friends,

A few weeks ago, I asked my colleagues to approve emergency funding for homeless families. Here's the reason - they are 60 families on the waiting list for emergency shelter right now in Multnomah County. 60 families who have exhausted all of their options and are asking for help to keep their families safe.

These one-time resources will fund two housing placement specialists at Portland Homeless Family Solutions and rent assistance to get families inside as soon as possible.

This is a small victory. The problem of homelessness, however, is growing despite our best efforts.

This spring, Commissioner Nick Fish and I brought together a group of stakeholders to analyze how we can do a better job of ending homeless in Multnomah County. Recommendations are due by January. Some of the questions this group is wrestling with include, how do we meet new federal mandates to reduce shelter stays? In a time of limited resources, how do we prioritize who we can help? Do we prioritize by population, for example, should we prioritize families over individuals? Do we prioritize by vulnerability, focusing services on who is less likely to survive outside? Are some groups of people not able to access housing or shelter services and if so, how do we change that? How do we raise attention to this issue and get more people involved in the solution?

If you have any thoughts you would like this group to consider, please send them to me. I will make sure they are included in the conversation.

Deborah Kafoury 

Stephens Creek Crossing Wall Raising

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, I had the opportunity to join Home Forward (formerly known as the Housing Authority of Portland), project partners, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, and neighbors to "raise the wall" for Stephens Creek Crossing, a public housing community in Southwest Portland. 

Stephens Creek Crossing redevelopment will replace the former housing development, Hillsdale Terrace. Home Forward won an $18.6 million federal HOPE VI grant to help fund the new community of opportunity, which will result in 122 affordable apartment homes, a Children's Center with Head Start classrooms, and community gardens. Seven Habitat for Humanity homes will be built nearby as part of the project.

Former Hillsdale Terrace residents will have the opportunity to return to Stephens Creek Crossing when it opens its doors in 2014. As I said at the wall raising, "Hillsdale is a great neighborhood to live and raise a family and it should be a great place to live and raise a family regardless of income."

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Today, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted to proclaim October Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We join President Barack Obama and other state and local governments in raising awareness because of the huge impact domestic violence takes on our community. 

In Multnomah County, domestic violence is one of the most significant contributors to violent crime and homicides, accounting for approximately 40% of all reported violent crimes. One in four Oregon homicides is the result of domestic violence and 42% of these are followed by a suicide or suicide attempt.
Multnomah County is working to end domestic violence. Last year, a total of 2,749 adults and children sought to escape domestic violence with services provided by 10 local agencies with the support of the Domestic Violence Coordination Office (DVCO). Annie Neal, M.P.H., director of DVCO, states, "The domestic violence movement has come a long way since the 1970s when the first emergency shelter on the West Coast was founded here in Portland."

In 2010, the County and City joined forces to establish the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence which provides a full range of services in an easily accessible, safe, welcoming and secure environment. Services include emergency shelter, transitional housing, employment services and advocacy.

If you want to help, please support the agencies working to end domestic violence at these planned events in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month: 

Weigh in on the future of the Downtown Courthouse

Last week, the Oregonian reported on the state of Multnomah County's Downtown Courthouse. 

Commissioner Judy Shiprack and I are committed to finding a long-term solution for this critical facility and we need your help. I encourage you to do the following:

Drop off your ballot at any Multnomah County library beginning Oct. 19

For the November 2012 general election, Oregon voters may drop off their ballots at any Multnomah County library during regular business hours. This service will be available from Friday, Oct. 19, through 8 pm on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. (Other library facilities such as Library Administration, Library Outreach Services and The Title Wave Used Bookstore do not accept ballots.)

Ballot boxes will be stationed at the Central Library Welcome Desk and at or near the checkout stations of all other neighborhood libraries.

Libraries are closed on Mondays. However, voters may drop off ballots on Monday, Nov. 5, from 10 am to 5 pm at all library locations except Central Library. A secure drive-up ballot/book return site is available at Central Library, on SW 11th Ave. (between Yamhill and Taylor) 24 hours a day. Voters may also deposit their ballots 24 hours a day, until 8 pm on Election Day, into the outdoor ballot drop boxes located at Gresham and Midland libraries.

Library locations and business hours are available here.

The Broadway Bridge is Turning 100 - How should we celebrate? 

The Broadway Bridge turns 100 next year, and PDX Bridge Fest would like your suggestions for how to celebrate. Operated by Multnomah County, the Broadway Bridge was the first bascule bridge over the Willamette and the longest bridge of its type in the world when it opened in April 1913.

On April 22, 2013 the PDX Bridge Festival will begin a month long series of events celebrating the bridge's birthday. Do you have an idea for how our community should celebrate the 100th birthday of this important and iconic bridge?

Proposals should include sources of funding, as well as strategies for achievement of the proposed event, such as timing, equipment and volunteers needed, etc.

WHEN & WHERE to present your proposal: Present your proposal on October 29, 2012, 6-9 p.m. in the Transition Projects Community Meeting Room, 665 NW Hoyt St., west end of the Broadway Bridge.

Ideas currently under consideration include an art exhibit, birthday cake, libations, third grade bridges exhibition, and community services tabling.

For more about the Broadway Bridge, click here. For more about PDX Bridge Festival and The Big & Awesome Bridges of Portland & Vancouver-A Book for Young Readers, go to: www.pdxbridgefestival.org