Project Homeless Connect empowers individuals experiencing houselessness by meeting them where they are and walking with them on their unique journeys toward stability and self-reliance.
Our multi-pronged approach built upon trusting relationships includes our street outreach team, access center, shelter services, and housing resources with case management. Utilizing peer-support services, trauma-informed care, a DEI lens, and other current best practices, we are ending houselessness and changing the lives of the friends we serve.
Commitment to DEI
Project Homeless Connect has an organizational commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure that our programs and workplace are equitable in both access and outcomes. The policies and intent at PHC are to provide equal opportunity for all persons in terms of employment, board participation, and service recipiency—regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, disability, or age. PHC responds affirmatively in its practices.
Core values that guide us in all our interactions include:
• Community: Homelessness affects the entire community and therefore should be addressed in a collaborative, problem-solving manner.
• Hope: There is nobody that is beyond help; we build trusting relationships so that when people are ready to receive help, they know we are there.
• Compassion: Every human being has worth; we treat others with love and respect, no matter what.
• Empowerment: All aspects of our programs use an equity lens to uplift and elevate those we serve.
Our vision is to ensure all people in Washington County have a stable place to call home by collaboratively working with partner agencies and government bodies to provide a high-quality, integrated system of services that includes trauma-informed street outreach, well-equipped access centers, congregate and non-congregate shelter formats, and housing assistance programs.
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.