Impact NW—ending Portland homelessness-local family

Impact NW—a different approach to ending Portland homelessness

Impact NW has been building a stronger, more equitable community across the Portland Metro for nearly 60 years. Today, our community is facing worsening income inequality, high housing costs and the rising cost of goods.

In the past few years, the struggle with housing insecurity has worsened. In 2019, a Portland State University study revealed that housing insecurity affected over 107,000 households in the greater Portland Tri-County area. During the pandemic, that number has grown to over 125,000 households. A 2022 survey found that nearly 6,633 people are homeless across the greater Portland area, showing a more than 20% increase since 2019.

Recent trends influenced Impact NW’s shift in 2019 to preventing homelessness. Through its efforts, Impact NW hopes to restore stability and provide strength to people facing housing insecurity.

Fighting homelessness.

Impact NW provides several helpful housing and safety net programs to get people back on their feet and transition to independence. Over 70% of people who receive these services have stable housing after six months.

The team starts with three in-house programs for resolving housing insecurity: Housing & Rent Assistance, Pathways to Food Security, and Energy Assistance. Additionally, they have programs dedicated to early childhood support, youth and family services, and senior assistance.

The team also effectively pulls government-sponsored programs together to help resolve the housing insecurity crisis. They direct their clients to key supplemental programs that could help them financially recover and avoid ending up without a home. Plus, they guide applicants on how to apply, what to expect along the way, and ways to establish independence.

Housing & rent assistance.

The Housing & Rent Assistance program helps families and individuals resolve their housing insecurity and opens the doors to further anti-poverty services, including energy assistance.

Impact NW—ending Portland homelessness-miss RobinThe staff provides all the guidance and support needed to achieve financial independence, including:

  • Rent and utilities assistance
  • Positive parenting resources and education
  • Recovery services
  • Academic and enrichment support for school-aged children
  • Job and career readiness for youth and young adults

Clients match with an Impact NW staff member who creates an individual support plan. Within that plan, they outline all the key goals for the household and the best strategies to use in achieving each one.

This program goes beyond simply stopping their clients’ slide into homelessness and gives them the tools to stay stable through the years.

Pathways to food security.

The Pathways to Food Security program shows Impact NW clients where to seek food assistance and how to overcome barriers to accessing essential resources now and in the future. The team doesn’t just provide information about the available resources but they also teach their clients how they can meet their needs. Impact NW provides strengths-based support and motivation to each individual/family. Clients are empowered within the process, receiving support to utilize their own sense of agency as they seek stability.

Depending on what’s available at the time, clients may get help from:

  • SNAP
  • Oregon Food Bank
  • Meals on Wheels People
  • The Turkey Project
  • Haute Mealz

Impact NW finds clients in need by working with two Providence medical clinics to identify individuals and families with young children who face food insecurity.

Energy assistance.

Impact NW—ending Portland homelessness-mother and child blowing bubbles in backyardThe Energy Assistance program helps people in need stay ahead of utility bills to avoid losing electricity, heat and water. The Impact NW team helps with immediate needs and then refers clients to social services for even more support. Impact NW works in partnership with utility companies and private and public donors to ensure people’s bills are paid.

Resources cover assistance for electric, oil and gas, plus help with water and sewer bills. Through this program, they can further promote their clients’ self-sufficiency.

Committed to Portland since 1966.

Impact NW launched in 1966 when Buckman residents rallied together to fight against poverty. Initial efforts centered on improving access to food, tools, family counseling and gainful employment. Youth and senior centers, free health clinics and supportive school programs followed. Today, Impact NW helps more than 15,000 households meet these basic needs every year.

The organization came to life through the community’s efforts—and it still relies on its neighbors’ support to keep programs going.

Keeping each family in their home costs about $1,250 per household, creating a serious need for a support network. Providing this support helps the community prevent enduring trauma and detrimental social repercussions.

Addressing a critical need for community support.

In addition to irreparable harm to people and households, Impact NW helps prevent homelessness costs for our community. Shelters spend about $3,300 per family. Other costs, including healthcare, cleanup fees, and incarceration create a significant financial burden.

Helping people and our community is one of the reasons that OnPoint is proud to support Impact NW’s mission. To show our support, OnPoint donated $10,000 in 2022 to put toward the organization’s goal of ending homelessness in the greater Portland area.

If you want to support Impact NW, you can make a donation, contribute household items or volunteer. Also, consider spreading the word by sharing its story on your social media channels.

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