On an annual basis the county of Multnomah provides grants to local non-profit agencies so that eviction help can be provided to low income renters. Additional funding for this homeless prevention program also comes from the social service offices at the City of Portland as well as Gresham. All of these funds are used to ensure that housing needs are met for both the homeless and families that are on the verge of eviction.
The formal name of the program is STRA, or Short Term Rent Assistance. The agency that in responsible for administering it from year to year can change, but the non-profit that is known as Home Forward is often involved in the process. They support individuals as well as families that have a pay or quit notice from their landlord and/or that are currently homeless. Rehousing (find more information below) can also help tenants that are leasing an unsafe home, such as one in disrepair or that is not meant for human habitation.
Renters that are struggling to keep up with their housing payments, as well as families with an eviction notice, can apply for eviction help. There is additional support for individuals who would be more at danger without a home to live in, and examples may be children, the disabled, or single moms in the area. But anyone can apply for these programs.
Homeless prevention from STRA will assist the client with maintaining their current home or apartment. This could mean different things to different people. Some struggling households may need money in an emergency to catch up on their rent. Others may be evicted due to unpaid heating, water, or electric bills. If the issue is over a legal matter, such as noise, lease disputes, or similar concerns, that can also lead to an eviction.
The team at Home Forward work with dozens of social services in Multnomah County and/or the city of Portland to handle all of these challenges (and more). The homeless prevention services in the area, no matter if they are run by a charity or the government, are all coordinated together by STRA. When funding allows, they will offer a grant for short term rental or utility needs while case management finds a long term solution to the crisis. Lawyers also participate in the process, as they have a wide range of tools they can offer to the eviction prevention programs.
Tenants that are at risk or that have a vacate notice are of course given priority for any aid. Applicants come from a wide variety of backgrounds, races, and religions. Anyone can apply for support as part of the programs. Resources are limited, but even if a grant or legal representation is not given, referrals may be made to other Gresham or Portland based agencies.
Multnomah County families that need to move due to a financial crisis as well as the homeless will be provide a short term “bridge” solution first. This may then eventually lead to a new, permanent home or apartment in the area.
The first step is to get the evicted person, or chronically homeless resident, off the streets. Or if they are sleeping in a car, in a park, or similar environment, this too may qualify them. The are shelters that can be used, or when those are not an option, then free hotel/motel vouchers are often the next step.
The process will next involve housing placement. This will occur for people that are leaving the shelter or motel. There has to be some form of stability achieved before Home Forward (or any local agency) will place someone into a new home. So all case management goals around budgeting, employment, and other financial needs have to be satisfied.
Rehousing can last as long as 2 years. This is done to prevent a future episode of evictions/homelessness. What a prospective tenant in Multnomah County may qualify for is the money for paying security deposits or a grant to hook up their electricity. Then, over the next 24 months or so, STRA will give ongoing guidance and case management. This can be offered from one of almost 20 different social service agencies in the region.
The most effect way to stop homelessness is coordinating multiple agencies and programs in the greater Portland Oregon area. A coalition has been created to do this, and no matter what is needed to stop an eviction in the county, some form of assistance will be offered.
There was a significant amount of effort done to coordinate the rapid rehousing as well as eviction prevention programs throughout Multnomah County. For more information on how to get assistance, dial 503-802-8300
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