Community Report

These 4 Nonprofits Are Fighting Homelessness One Meal, Bed, or Trash Bag at a Time

When it comes to tackling homelessness, bigger is not always better.

By Fiona McCann June 25, 2019 Published in the July 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

The story: When Terrance Moses heard about homeless people in his North Portland neighborhood being harangued by their housed neighbors, he went directly to the people in the encampment to ask what they needed. The answer? A way to dispose of trash. That act spawned Neighbors Helping Neighbors PDX, a nonprofit that, since 2016, has brought community volunteers together to distribute trash bags to more than 450 different homeless encampments in NoPo and collect them once they’re full. (Volunteers also make sandwiches to be handed out at drop-offs.)

How to help: Neighbors Helping Neighbors is focused on North Portland but wants to help others replicate the work around the city. The team is looking for personal care items for regular distribution, and sandwich-making volunteers. 

Cascadia Clusters

The story: Andrew Olshin worked as an attorney and homeless outreach coordinator. Rafael Toma Solano is a veteran construction project manager. The pair formed this nonprofit last year, its core mission to increase the amount of low-cost housing in Portland by training the houseless to build tiny homes for villages and smaller clusters for themselvesand for private purchase.

How to help: Cascadia Clusters is looking for religious or privately owned property to host clusters. They also need donations of tools and materials, including insulation, and appliances. 

Right 2 Survive

The story: This advocacy group was founded in 2009 by Ibrahim Mubarak to educate houseless people about their legal, civil, and constitutional rights. The group has been working to introduce state legislation to enshrine the rights of houseless populations. The organization also created Right 2 Dream Too, a space along the Willamette River in North Portland offering up to 100 people a place to sleep up to 12 hours every day and night.

How to help: Among other things, the nonprofit invites volunteers to come on river walks to help inform houseless campers along the Willamette about the impact of environmental pollutants. Donations of food, tents, sleeping bags, and first aid supplies for Right 2 Dream Too are also welcome. 

Rahab’s Sisters

The story: Sixteen years ago, three women began offering coffee to women they met on the streets along SE 82nd Avenue. Those coffees evolved
to warm, sit-down meals inside a nearby church, and Rahab’s Sisters was born. The organization offers “radical hospitality” to women impacted by homelessness, domestic violence, poverty, the sex industry, and substance abuse. They gather every Friday to serve whoever shows—nowadays upwards of 60 people identifying as women—a restaurant-style dinner. That means tablecloths, flowers, and volunteers serving you at your seat, along with personal hygiene necessities and a warm welcome.

How to help: Set up a monthly cash donation, or drop off toilet paper, sanitary supplies, toothbrushes, and toothpaste any time. Alternatively, volunteer to be part of meal preparation. 

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