Community Action Stories

More than housing – making a home.

Too many people are finding themselves caught in our national housing crisis. With vacancy rates are as low as 1% around the state, the dwindling supply of safe, stable, and affordable units are often too expensive for many who need them and they are left with nowhere to go.

Seventeen Community Action Agencies (CAAs) around the state are working to change that. By combining and leveraging a variety of resources – especially the Emergency Housing Assistance (EHA) fund and State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP) – our CAAs succeed in helping Oregonians secure housing and create homes.

Here are some of the stories of families and individuals who are thriving with support they are getting from their local CAA.

Listen

  • CharlesOregon Coast Community Action
    A housing scam left Charles and his wife living in their car for more than a year. They now have a comfortable home.

 

  • Ana and VanessaInsights Teen Parent Services
    These two teenaged moms struggled, until case management and housing support helping them into safe stable homes of their own.

  • BodhiShelterCare
    Now a case worker for more than a decade, Bodhi shares his story of a childhood marred by abuse, running away at 15, homelessness, survival on the streets, and reflects on how the right support can change lives for the better.

 

Read

  • “Lisa”NeighborImpact
    Domestic violence forced a mother and two sons from their home. Despite having family willing to help, Lisa needed additional supports to rebuild her life and care for her boys.
    Read and share her story. 
  • DeannaNeighborImpact
    With little more than the clothes on their backs, Deanna and her son escaped domestic violence but found it much more difficult than expected to find a job and a new home. Even with 20+ years of administrative experience, Maria and her son needed help from her local Community Action Agency to recover and flourish.
    Read and share her story.
  • “Karen and Viktor”Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project (HOAP)
    From living in a tent, to receiving a housing voucher, to comprehensive case management, to a stable home and employment – this young couple was able to address their complex array of needs because HOAP helped them navigate an equally complex system.
    Read and share their story.
  • KatieSalem Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN)
    As a young, unexpectedly single mother, Katie needed more than her current job provided in order to cover the costs of child care so that she could continue working and afford appropriate housing. Salem IHN connected her to the tools and partners she needed to secure a home and safe care for her toddler.
    Read and share her story.
  • Ellen – Mid-Columbia Community Action Council

    For decades, Ellen* was married to a violent alcoholic. Having grown up in an alcoholic home, for the longest time, she didn’t know there were other options. She became a brilliant homemaker, raised four children, endured the binges and rages, finding solace in the beauty of her meticulous gardens. When the children grew up and moved out, Ellen found the courage for change and filed for divorce. Never allowed to work outside the home while she was married, Ellen now needed to find a job and pay all the bills. She registered to work as a caregiver, picked up several clients, budgeted and saved. But over time, her health declined, reducing her ability to work, and Ellen lost her home of more than 30 years.
    MCCAC used NEW EHA funds to help Ellen with a deposit and first month’s rent on a house affordable enough to accommodate a HUD Section 8 voucher for which she has applied. Ellen once again has gardens that need tending and a cost of living that will keep her in a home! Total cost, $1,080.
    Read and share her story.

  • Jessica – Mid-Columbia Community Action Council

    Jessica* is a veteran who, due to her severe PTSD, has trouble leaving the house and cannot keep a job. Despite all the compelling evidence and a good attorney, it is taking significant time for the VA to approve her disability claim. Honorably discharged from the military one year ago, Jessica lived for months in her car until a friend offered some financial help and she got an apartment. The challenge: How to keep it going? Unable to work, she resorted to selling most everything she had, including her jewelry, the car she had lived in, her plasma, and ultimately sex – so she could stay off the street, so she could pay the rent. Eventually she got yet another 72-hour eviction notice; Jessica was out of options.
    Someone told her about MCCAC and that the agency might help her avoid becoming homeless again. In the smallest whisper, she shared her story with the caseworker, revealing her strengths, joys, hopes, and fears. She expressed how difficult she found it to ask for help, as a woman and as a veteran, adding that in her family, she was always the one who held everyone together. MCCAC used New EHA-HP funds to keep Jessica from losing her home, and together they developed a short-term rent assistance plan that would ensure housing stability until the VA approved her disability. Jessica continued to work with her caseworker for months. Happily, she recently married her best friend, whose new job promises to be enough to pay for their rent in the near future. Keeping Jessica off the streets through New EHA funds cost a mere $1,350.
    Read and share her story.

  • Sam and Maya – Mid-Columbia Community Action Council
    Sam,* a disabled veteran, and his partner, Maya,* are caring for their four children – the youngest only seven months old. With the added burdens of disability and unemployment, the family was literally on the streets and without income when Maya came to MCCAC to ask for help. Sam had landed in the hospital with a terrible infection and there was talk of amputating his leg. Faced with this devastating prospect, Maya and Sam knew they needed help.
    Hood River has no emergency shelters and, like much of the state, an extreme housing shortage. MCCAC used new SHAP funds to put the family into a motel until permanent housing could be secured. By working with our Housing Authority, which prioritizes disabled veterans for its HUD Section 8 program, Sam and his family were able to move from the motel to a mobile home in a park using a HUD Section 8 voucher. Securing this safe, affordable housing is key to ensuring long-term health and stability for Sam, Maya, and their children.
    Read and share her story.
  • Suzanne– Mid-Columbia Community Action Council
    Suzanne* and two children had been living in a trailer in a friend’s driveway since last spring when she first came to MCCAC. Her youngest son, Martin, an avid biology student, has a passion for amphibians. They arrived for a first appointment accompanied by a small tree frog in a plastic box that Martin had converted into a terrarium. With admiration and excitement, the boy demonstrated how the little frog’s skin would change color, depending upon the background it was placed on. The first day of school was fast approaching; the boys were excited, but Suzanne worried that her sons would be homeless again this school year.
    Finally, an apartment in a subsidized complex became available; but, it required the rent and deposit up front or they’d offer it to the next person in line. The family’s $500/month income, received at the start of that month, was long spent. After all, it costs much more to feed a family when you have no stove and no refrigerator for storing food. MCCAC used new EHA-RRH funds to pay Suzanne’s first month pro-rated rent and her security deposit. With this investment of only $347, the boys started school in a stable, safe, affordable apartment.
    Read and share her story.

Get More Information

Download a short data sheet for more detail on how programs like EHA and SHAP help Oregonians.

You can further explore these issues through the presentations from our 2016 Symposium. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

You can find links to much more on our page for Symposium presentations and materials.

Contact Us

Want to know more about programs that support housing for Oregonians? Contact:

Janet Merrell
Executive Director, Community Action Partnership of Oregon

If you are an individual in need of help, please see our map to find the Community Action Agency that provides services in your area. Then get in touch with them to start moving your family toward safe, stable, affordable housing.