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.

Learn more about ShelterCare.

Homeless in Southern Oregon

Take a deep dive into homelessness in Southern Oregon. Community Action Agency ACCESS partnered with local NBC affiliate KOBI for this exploration of homelessness in the area that included discussions with families, seniors, youth, veterans, and LGBTQ people who are experiencing homelessness as well as the causes, criminalization, and trauma-informed care.

MWVCAA Community Resource Program (CRP) Highlights

Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA)
Community Resource Program (CRP) Highlights

Hotel Shelter Program

During the COVID crisis, MWVCAA has been placing unsheltered households into hotels throughout Marion and Polk County (largely in Salem) to help prevent disease transmission. Households may be referred from a partner agency, or self-referral through Coordinated Entry. The primary population assisted is individuals with specific underlying health conditions as specified by the CDC. Resulting in them being high risk. In this instance, the hotel program is acting as a prevention measure through isolation.  The second group is unsheltered individuals who have either tested positive for COVID, are pending a COVID test result, or are symptomatic and are unable to receive a test. This group is quarantined in a separate hotel to prevent transmission within the population. Funding was made available by Oregon Housing and Community Services, as well as the local Coordinated Care Organization – Pacific Source.

To assist in the program, key partnerships have been established to provide adequate food distribution, medical services (telehealth and COVID testing), care management, as well as financial support. As of June 1, 2020 – 140 households (totaling 183 adults, and 47 children) have been enrolled. Totaling more than 5,000 bed nights over the course of this 12 week program. 

Homeless Prevention/ Rent Relief Program

In response to COVID, MWVCAA has designed a robust prevention platform. Where households who have been impacted by COVID (i.e loss of employment, sickness, etc) will be eligible to receive a one-time rental and/or utility assistance to help re-stabilize after the pandemic. MWVCAA anticipates a large increase in prevention requests and has opened multiple access points within Marion and Polk County, including: CRP, Santiam Outreach Center (SOCC), Polk CDC – Dallas, Love Inc. – Woodburn, Sheltering Silverton – Silverton. 

Funding for the prevention program is provided by a variety of state and federal sources. All aimed at helping Oregonians to stay in their homes as a result of COVID closures and rebuild stability within the community. Sources include: Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) – Rent Relief funds, OHCS – Emergency Solutions Grant, and OHCS – Community Service Block grant. In all, CRP anticipates roughly 1.5 million dollars in direct client service.

To access this assistance, households are encouraged to call 503-399-9080 ext 4003 to speak with a Coordinated Entry representative. From there, a Housing Assessment will be conducted. Upon completion the household is referred to a member of our Prevention team for processing. Team members work with the household to determine eligibility and facilitate bill payment. Work can be conducted remotely or at any of our partner locations. Specialized systems have been put into place for particular sub-populations, such as: Veterans, Spanish speaking households, and families. 

Outreach Program 

During COVID -19, MWVCAA is reinforcing the mantra, “bring the services to them”. Whereby outreach workers visit Wallace and Cascade Gateway park encampments in Salem, OR to check on the welfare of the unsheltered population. To aid in the work, new outreach workers have been added to the team. This has facilitated complete area coverage, as well as working alongside community partners. Since March, over 250 sleeping bags, 200 tents, 150 tarps, and various other camping supplies have been distributed.

Food insecurity has been a notable issue as meal sites close due to gathering restrictions. As a result, MWVCAA brought area partners together to establish stronger and coordinated efforts. These new systems focus on filling service gaps, and most importantly increased access to hot meals and food boxes. In addition, collaborative events have been hosted within the camps, bringing housing assessments, basic need supports, COVID testing, and medical care.

Black lives matter.

It’s appalling, frustrating and disheartening that such a statement needs to be made. However, the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other black people as well as the legacy of violence and hate against black people in America, have made it necessary. We also recognize that racism is not merely overt violence, but also woven into our systems, our institutions, our language, and our internal biases, conscious and unconscious. 

Racism is also present in our silence. We can no longer let our fear of offending, of making a mistake, of saying the wrong thing prevent us from doing what is right.

Community Action fights poverty. And because of the intersection of poverty and race, we must also fight racism. Ending poverty in Oregon means addressing the systemic biases and injustices that cause poverty. 

Black people face discrimination in housing, employment, health care, justice, education, and access to food. Take a minute to think about that last sentence – your home, your job, your health, your safety, your school, and what you eat are ALL affected by the color of your skin. 

Community Action Partnership of Oregon’s core values include equity and racial justice. We are committed to exposing and ending racism in our work – both in the discrimination faced by black Oregonians who receive support from Community Action and in the biases in our internal operations and structures.

Our current strategic plan includes these points:

  • Naming structural racism as a cause of poverty.
  • Diversifying our capacity to advocate for resources that fund innovative solutions addressing the conditions and systemic root causes of poverty (including racism).
  • Advocate for ongoing training, technical assistance, and resources for network members to promote and advance racial equity.
  • Provide support for and hold Community Action Agencies accountable to considering and integrating issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through all their service delivery.
  • Adopt a theory of change for CAPO’s work that is grounded in racial equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Finally, we recognize the importance of making space for black voices and leadership. We will listen and learn from those who are on the front lines of this fight and are generously sharing their time, experiences, and ideas to educate and guide the efforts of allies like CAPO. We hope you’ll join us in this work to realize our vision for inclusive and caring communities across Oregon where people have equitable access to the services and resources they need to thrive and are able to meet their own goals.

State Provides $8.5 Million for Rent Relief

Source: Oregon Housing and Community Services News Release May 18, 2020

SALEM, OR – The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has left many Oregon families without resources to pay rent, buy food, make utility payments, and provide other necessities. OHCS’ COVID-19 Rent Relief Program provides much needed rent assistance for people who have experienced a loss of income and are at risk of homelessness due to COVID-19.

Find the contact information for your local Community Action Agency to find out more about rent assistance

“Through no fault of their own, many Oregonian families are facing an abrupt loss of income and find themselves unable to pay their rent during this pandemic,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Through Oregon Housing and Community Services, we can deliver immediate rent relief so that more families can stay housed as we work to build a safe and strong Oregon.” 

Many Oregonians are struggling to pay rent, and low-income Oregonians and communities of color are more likely to be rent-burdened than their white counterparts. OHCS allocated these funds through a needs-based formula to regional Community Action Agencies (CAAs). The formula weighed severe rent burden data, poverty data, homelessness data, and unemployment claims. 

CAAs will begin taking applications in the coming days. Oregonians in need should contact their local CAA directly. Tenant income loss documentation and other materials are required to access this program. Rent payments will be made directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant. 

“The last two months have been trying for many in our communities,” said Director Margaret Salazar, “Oregonians were already struggling to find a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. As families grapple with lost wages, the need is even greater. I am so grateful to get this assistance in the hands of our friends and neighbors in need, including farmworkers and their families who are facing unique housing challenges.” 

The $8.5 million was allocated by the Oregon Legislature through the Joint Emergency Board. OHCS anticipates additional resources from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will be made available in the weeks ahead.

Michael and Rodney

This is Michael and his puppy Rodney, two of NeighborImpact’s shelter guests this winter. We spoke to Michael recently about his story of homelessness here in Central Oregon. 5 years ago Michael was a normal Oregonian, he had a job, a car, a house. However, after his wife died and other circumstances occurred he had to make a decision, pay for his medicine or his homeowner’s insurance. He chose his medicine. Not long after his house burned to the ground with all of his possessions. Michael then was thrust into homelessness in his mid 60s.

His story drives home the desperate times we live in and the reason NeighborImpact exists. If you want to help – or help yet again – please share this video, start a Facebook campaign, send a donation, or contribute any part of your stimulus check you don’t need. We and those who need our help appreciate your kindness, and we thank you.

The Oregon Community Recovery Fund to provide immediate additional funds for CAPO and the Community Action network throughout Oregon

Community Action Partnership of Oregon (CAPO) and Community Action Agencies throughout the state are thankful to have received nearly $1 million from the first round of the Oregon Community Recovery Fund, hosted by the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF). This rapid action by OCF and its partners will enable Community Action to provide flexible resources quickly where they are most critically needed during the COVID crisis. 

March 25, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Swanson

Philanthropy acts fast to support Oregon nonprofits and small businesses 

First round of grants from Oregon Community Recovery Fund: $2M statewide to community action organizations on frontlines of COVID-19 
OCF announces new fund for immediate financial relief to small businesses through grants to nonprofit community lenders

Portland, Ore. – Philanthropic partners, businesses and individuals across the state have quickly responded with contributions to the Oregon Community Recovery Fund – approaching $5 million to date – with the first round of grants deploying this week.  Oregon Community Foundation (OCF), hosting the fund, notified community action organizations throughout Oregon of $2 million in grants. 

Grants were awarded to non-profit organizations across Oregon, and include:


  • Mid-Columbia Community Action Council in The Dalles ($37,400)
  • NeighborImpact in Redmond ($72,600)
  • United Way of Deschutes County in Bend ($30,000)


  • Communities in Action in Ontario ($35,200)
  • Community Action Program of East Central Oregon in Pendleton ($46,200)
  • Community Connection of Northeast Oregon ($38,500)

Portland Metro

  • Central City Concern in Portland ($41,500)
  • Clackamas County Social Services in Oregon City ($97,000)
  • Community Action of Washington County in Hillsboro ($52,500)
  • El Programa Hispano Católico in Gresham ($41,500)
  • Impact NW in Portland ($41,500)
  • Native American Youth & Family Center in Portland ($41,500)
  • Oregon Human Development Corporation in Tigard ($52,500)
  • United Way of the Columbia-Willamette in Portland ($79,000)
  • Urban League of Portland $(41,500)

North Coast

  • Community Action Team in St. Helens ($49,500)
  • United Way of Columbia County in Rainier ($19,000)

North Willamette

  • Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency in Salem ($99,000)
  • United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley in Salem ($49,000)
  • Yamhill Community Action Partnership in McMinnville ($43,000)

South Coast

  • Oregon Coast Community Action in Coos Bay ($44,000)
  • United Way of Southwestern Oregon in Coos Bay ($22,000)

South Willamette

  • Community Services Consortium in Albany ($71,000)
  • Greater Douglas United Way in Roseburg ($24,000)
  • United Community Action Network in Roseburg ($64,900)
  • United Way of Lane County in Springfield ($75,000)
  • United Way of Lane County – COVID-19 Response Fund in Springfield ($45,000)
  • United Way of Linn County in Albany ($36,000)


  • ACCESS in Medford ($63,000)
  • Klamath and Lake Community Action Services in Klamath Falls ($41,800)
  • United Way of Jackson County in Medford ($32,000)


  • Community Action Partnership of Oregon ($15,000)
  • MRG Foundation ($100,000)
  • OCF: Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund ($300,000)
  • OCF: ECFLC Collaborative Administrative Fund ($20,000)

With inputs from a network of volunteers, community leaders and partners, OCF has moved quickly over the past week to provide funding and resources to nonprofits in order to fill gaps in funding not met by the public or private sector during the crisis. The goal is to mobilize and deploy flexible resources where and when they are critically needed, focusing most on Oregon’s most vulnerable populations.

Also, on Wednesday Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) launched a new philanthropic fund to support Oregon’s small business owners as they grapple with the realities of severely constricted economic activity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Seeded with a $300,000 investment from OCF, the Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund will provide emergency capital to nonprofit community lenders in both urban and rural communities, increasing these lenders’ capacity to offer low-interest and no-interest loans and technical assistance to small businesses. Small businesses dealing with reduced sales and revenue can use the loans to continue to retain employees until economic activity picks up in a few months.

“The Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund and Oregon Community Recovery Fund are two great opportunities for Oregon businesses, large or small, to support non profits, business owners and their employees during this crisis,” said Greg Ness, chair of the board of the Oregon Business Council and chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Standard. “I’m pleased to see so many Oregon companies working together with OCF and many philanthropic partners to help Oregonians during these unprecedented times. We need to ensure small businesses and their employees weather this storm so they can quickly get back on their feet when it passes.”

Grant funding for nonprofit lenders to support Oregon’s small businesses

Without immediate assistance to pay for operating costs, many Oregon small businesses such as childcare centers, restaurants, and other businesses vital to urban and rural communities are being forced to close their doors and lay off employees. 

The Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund will help nonprofit lenders cushion the impact of lost revenue for small businesses until more state or federal resources are available or business resumes. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses employ 55% of all Oregon employees and make up 99.4% of all Oregon businesses. 

“We recognize this fund represents just a portion of the assistance that will required to help Oregon’s small businesses weather this storm,” OCF President and CEO Max Williams. “If leaders in philanthropy, government, and the private sector can align their funding in this critical moment, we can position small businesses to emerge from this crisis intact, ready to resume their central role in their communities and the statewide economy.”

OCF is working closely with state and city partners to ensure that funds are well coordinated and deployed equitably across the state. The fund will be active for at least six months to provide immediate relief across the state. 

“Very few small business plans include a global pandemic,” said Palo Alto Software CEO and OCF Board Director Sabrina Parsons of Eugene. “We recognize the urgent need for people to stay at home to promote public safety, but when business slows, operating costs don’t disappear. The only thing that will get us through this crisis is access to funding to cover expenses until we can open our doors again.”

Nonprofit lenders eligible for grant funding include Community Development Financial Institutions, Economic Development Districts, and Economic Development Agencies for Oregon cities and tribes that have experience providing loans and grants to small businesses in their region. Qualifying organizations may apply for grant funding at the OCF website.

Anyone may contribute to the Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund. Donations can be made online at

About Oregon Community Foundation

Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) puts donated money to work in Oregon – more than $100 million in grants and scholarships annually. For nearly 45 years, OCF grantmaking, research, advocacy and community-advised solutions have helped individuals, families, businesses and organizations create charitable funds to improve lives for all Oregonians. Impactful giving–time, talent and resources from many generous Oregonians–creates measurable change. For more information about OCF, please visit:   

Executive Director Renée Bruce Retires from Community Action – Here’s What She Had to Say

At each Board of Directors meeting, I like to close the meeting with a “mission moment” by reading some recent comments submitted by our clients. These comments give me the chance to ground all of us to the impact Community Action has on the people and community we serve. It’s moments like these that I will miss tremendously as I retire following 29 years at Community Action. While the working chapter of my life closes, I am truly excited for the beginning of a new one filled with travel and time spent with my three beautiful grandsons and their parents.

With a background in early childhood education, I started at Community Action in 1990 managing the Child Development & Parenting program. When I took my first job here, I was happy, but I felt it would be temporary until I got to know Oregon better and could find the “perfect” job. The longer I stayed, the more I fell in love with Community Action – both with the important work we do and with the amazing people I have worked alongside over these many years. In each leadership position I held, I have always been proud to say, “I work at Community Action!” The reason is that no matter what door a client may come through, a thoughtful and empathetic staff member is ready to meet them, listen to them, and help them. Time and again, our clients tell us that after meeting with our staff, they feel seen and heard as a person, not as a problem or a number.  I’m proud of so much here at Community Action, but I am most proud of how we work with and respect the people we serve. 

My level of excitement for Community Action’s next chapter is sky high. The financial health of the organization is stronger than ever. The bench of talented leaders, both current and future, is deep and solid. Community Action is focused on the future, searching out ways to improve how we serve clients and deepen our impact in Washington County.

I am also excited because I am handing the keys of the organization over to our new Executive Director, Kemp Shuey. Kemp has been with Community Action for four years as our Director of Resource Development, and he is someone I trust to lead the organization into the future. Leading Community Action is a big task, and in my time working with Kemp I know he has the thoughtfulness, vision, and passion to carry the work forward. I believe in his ability to steward our culture and challenge the organization to continue finding ways to grow and improve.