City, county try to get families ‘Home for Holidays’

Agencies will offer rental assistance, security deposits and other housing and move-in costs

A kitchen in a rental unit in Portland (KOIN, file)
A kitchen in a rental unit in Portland (KOIN, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — City and county agencies announced a plan to find apartments for at least 40 homeless families this holiday season, and they’re asking for help from landlords and property managers.

The campaign, Home for the Holidays, hopes to place the families between now and January 15, 2018. The program is a direct appeal to anyone with rental units to make them available immediately — and affordably — so families ready to move out of shelters can do it as soon as possible.

Human Solutions: Home for the Holidays

Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the campaign is not asking for charity, just a lending hand.

Marlena Neely is a single mother of 3 boys, November 13, 2017 (KOIN)
Marlena Neely is a single mother of 3 boys, November 13, 2017 (KOIN)

Marlena Neely, a single mother of 3 boys, is one of the people looking for a chance to get back on their feet.

“While I cannot afford a 2-bedroom place that is asking for income to be 3 times the amount of rent, one- and-a-half times I can do,” she said Monday.

Under the program, non-profits like Human Solutions, Community Warehouse and Portland Homeless Family Solutions will offer rental assistance, security deposits and other housing and move-in costs to address possible property owner losses and concerns.

“I think that’s where one of the challenges will be,” said Rich Miller with Affinity Property Management. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all that every owner will say, ‘Yes, I agree with that.’ So I think you’ll have mixed participation.”

Marc Jolin with the Joint Office of Homeless Services, November 13, 2017 (KOIN)
Marc Jolin with the Joint Office of Homeless Services, November 13, 2017 (KOIN)

Marc Jolin with the Joint Office of Homeless Services there are things an agency can cover.

“If there’s a deposit needed or a payment of back debt, for example, things that might get in the way of a landlord feeling comfortable renting to somebody, those are the kinds of expenses that those agencies can cover,” Jolin told KOIN 6 News.

The program is looking for 1- to 4-bedroom units in Multnomah County with rents between $600 and $1600, depending on size.

“If we get 60 offers or 80 offers or 100, we’ll still have families who can take that up,” he said.

Human Solutions said the average family stay in a shelter is now 65 days — 3 times longer than a few years ago.