To provide exemplary community connections to shelter, critical resources, services, and housing.
We hope to end all visibility of homelessness in Washington County through a high-quality, fully integrated system of services and support that responds to the needs of those struggling with housing retention in our community. Our success depends on knowing everyone as an individual and meeting them where they are. This is at the core of each of our programs and in all that we do.
Our Program Model
The forces which affect homelessness are complex and often interactive in nature. Social forces, such as addictions, family breakdown, and mental illness, are compounded by structural forces, like a lack of available low-cost housing, poor economic conditions, and insufficient mental health services. Together these factors impact levels of homelessness through their dynamic relations. Historic models, which are static in nature, have only been marginally successful in capturing these relationships. At Project Homeless Connect, we look to reduce the stress and trauma of being homeless while providing a path to long-term solutions. We do this by building bridges and trust through our Day Center, street outreach team, One Day Events, and shelter program, before connecting unhoused friends to our one-on-one Housing Case Management program, which directs them to stable housing and other needful support services in the area. These proven solutions are ending homelessness in Washington County and changing the lives of the friends we serve.
An in-depth discussion is necessary to fully explore the nuances of our philosophy, but it can be summarized through the simple phrase “Meeting Them Where They Are.” Understanding the PHC philosophy is vital, as it guides all interactions between staff and clients in the program. In order to “meet our homeless friends where they are,” we start by establishing a trusting relationship built on mutual respect and non-judgment. Once we have this strong relationship established, we voice our concerns about the risks and consequences of certain behaviors and provide information, support, services, and supplies as necessary. This trusting relationship is crucial to their success and progress toward housing and self-reliance.
In 2006, Kim Marshall Gordon saw the need for a Project Homeless Connect model in her place of residence: Washington County. With great dedication and passion, she worked diligently to make this happen. After receiving support and backing from Good Neighbor Center and Vision Action Network, Kim successfully established Oregon’s first Project Homeless Connect.
During the past 17 years of collaboration, Project Homeless Connect of Washington County has grown its partnerships to include Vision Action Network, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, Pacific University, Washington County, and Providence Health & Services. Together with these various community sponsors, Project Homeless Connect has successfully put on numerous One Day Events that provide extensive critical services for the homeless community of Washington County.
In 2019, Project Homeless Connect was asked to operate “Shelter at Orenco Station,” which served as a 90-day severe weather shelter at Sonrise Church. In addition to this severe weather shelter, Project Homeless Connect created its first Day Center, providing a safe place for people experiencing homelessness to receive meals, showers, and assistance with resources. When the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly transpired, Project Homeless Connect expanded its efforts even more!
Project Homeless Connect started to oversee multiple severe weather & emergency shelters and employed a team of street outreach workers that engage with those without shelter within our community. Our shelter program, outreach team, and Day Center all work together to make initial connections to unhoused friends and build trust through provisions and relationship building.
In 2021, with the support of Washington County, Project Homeless Connect was able to start providing Housing Case Management. This exciting new program pairs individuals experiencing homelessness with one of our highly qualified case managers, all with lived experience, who help them secure housing and connect them with other support services in the area. This program allows us to utilize the Housing First Approach, which provides stable housing before addressing any other issues, such as employment, sobriety, or health. This method removes the trauma and challenges that come with homelessness and leads to a greater probability of success in overcoming un- or under-employment, addictions, or health conditions. This current best practice is showing promise as we have been able to increase our housing and retention rates.
We are excited to continue our growth and impact as we strive to end homelessness in Washington County through proven solutions and compassionate service.