ACCESS and Community Partners Join Forces with Local Law Enforcement to Address Homelessness

When I think of community partners, I frequently think of other nonprofit Community Action agencies that I work with on a daily basis, whether I am referring participants to them or they are referring participants to ACCESS. I have, for the most part, not thought of our local police departments as a community partner in the same way as ACCESS, RVVCO, Easterseals, and others. After some consideration, I realize that this is wrong thinking on my part.

Every month, the Medford and Central Point Police Departments, the Jackson County Sheriff Department and Adult Probation and Parole conduct a Greenway Sweep to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the greenway in Jackson County. It is a safety concern for the residents and the people who are sleeping along the greenway. As an ACCESS/SSVF (Supportive Services for Veterans and their Families) employee, I have been going along on these sweeps for several months; I admire the consideration, the compassion, and the understanding these officers show as they conduct their sweep.

Our local police and law enforcement departments are acutely and painfully aware of the fact that the community members they must ticket for trespassing along the greenway, for the most part, have no other place to go. So, to encourage the individuals they ticket to seek help and assistance from community partners, the police department:

  1. Puts out the word to local Community Action agencies that they can come along on these monthly sweeps to offer their services to those trespassing on the greenway.
  2. Discards the ticket if the person receiving the tickets reaches out for services. The service provider contacts the lead police officer for the sweep to let the officer know that person is seeking services.

The willingness of local law enforcement agencies to think outside of the box in serving our community, helps ACCESS and our community partners to lead people experiencing homelessness to self-sufficiency.

Submitted by Kevin Knapp

MWVCAA Gets Salem Residents Out of the Cold

Intersectional Collaboration of Partners Is Saving Lives through Salem Warming Network Warming Centers

Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, in collaboration with area services, is dedicated to saving lives this winter season through the activation of warming centers. This initiative is produced via the Salem Warming Network. Centers are open to anyone who is homeless and housing unstable, including their pets.

The network is comprised of three fixed sites. Salem First Presbyterian Church is the primary location: opening each activation due to its proximity to the downtown core. Two auxiliary sites, Church at the Park and South Salem Friends Church, serve as other home bases for guests. Currently, the network capacity can support 189 guests and has the ability to transport free of charge.

Each of the Warming Centers offer hot beverages, a comfortable mat, and a blanket. This year, the activation range changed from 27 degrees to 32 degrees following input from volunteers and the community; this change has received positive responses and helps further the networks mission: to save lives.

So far this Warming Season, which spans from November 1-March 31, the Network has:

  • activated 14 nights,
  • serving 811 guests,
  • with the support of 102 volunteers
  • giving a total of 1,540 hours.

The Salem community has continued to support warming efforts by donating tea and coffee, hundreds of knitted scarves and hats, and socks for guests. To improve accessibility, a Warming Center Information Line has been created. The voicemail is updated daily with the status of the warming center and open locations.

This Warming Center Network is truly a working collaborative between entities and is a prime representation of a multifaceted service delivery model. The City of Salem supports the Warming Network by providing funds to reimburse sites for utility costs incurred by hosting a warming center; with further support provided by the city’s Fire Marshalls to help improve site capacity and safety. Congregations Helping People helps facilitate these reimbursements.

Additional partnerships with Willamette Valley Yellow Cab and Cherriots (city bus) help the network by offering free transportation to guests accessing Warming Centers. It is this transportation to/from unsheltered camps, and between sites, that helps eliminate barriers to accessing warming services. For families who visit warming centers, Family Promise has committed to offer alternate sheltering services.

Lastly, Willamette Valley Humane Society provided 18 kennels in order to help house pets who access sites with their owners.

Breaking Ground – 18th Street Development

On October 11, Community Action Team, Inc. (CAT) in St. Helens hosted a gathering of local and state officials, planners, project funders, building professionals, and interested citizens to celebrate the ground breaking of the new 18th Street Development, a 16-unit multifamily affordable housing complex.

This long-awaited and now imminent housing solution will take shape on a small tract of land along 18th Street between Columbia Blvd. and St. Helens Street in St. Helens.

Margaret Salazar, Director, Oregon Housing and Community Services; Senator Betsy Johnson; Joanne Sheehy, Oregon Housing and Community Services; Dan Brown, Executive Director, Community Action Team, Inc.; Nina Reed, President, Self-Help, Inc.

Owned and donated to the project by Columbia County Self-Help, Inc., the property is set to emerge as the address of sixteen 400-square-foot units, each tagged at a little over $100,000 for a total project cost of $1.633 million.

Self-Help, Inc. President, Nina Reed says that, while small in size, this number of available units will chip away at a big problem in Columbia County.

CAT Executive Director Dan Brown’s pointed remarks from the podium summed up the area’s present condition. “A recently completed housing study identified only 1,200 units of low-income affordable housing in Columbia County. The same study documented the current demand for an additional 1,900. That’s 1,900 more units required TODAY just to respond to the immediate needs of our most vulnerable population. That’s 160% more affordable units than are available right now in Columbia County.”

In 2016, former CAT director, Jim Tierney, submitted the funding application for 18th Street Development to Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). Once on the drawing board, the collaborative efforts of key local and state individuals and entities advanced the project through the planning stages to its now near launch. A special thanks goes to HomeFirst Development (Fairview, OR), whose vision is to help mission-driven organizations build quality, affordable housing.

Rich & Ellen Bailey, Rich Bailey Construction; Robert Justus, Principal, HomeFirst Development; Ben Pray, Principal, HomeFirst Development; Tony Jones, Project Manager, HomeFirst Development; & Doug Circosta, Architect, HomeFirst Development.

The first deposit in CAT’s 18th Street Development kitty came from Oregon Housing and Community Services’ LIFT fund (Local Innovation and Fast Track) in the amount of $608,000. A year later, Wauna Credit Union came through with a lending finance package that added $675,000 to the purse. Unfortunately, construction costs rose by $350,000 during that waiting period. Thanks to eleventh-hour intervention by State Senator Betsy Johnson and OHCS Director, Margaret Salazar, a grant from OHCS’s Mental Health Housing Fund came through to make up the difference.

The development is slated to be completed by June 2019, and fully occupied by August 2019.

Submitted by:
Community Action Team

Weatherization Day at the Capitol

We celebrated Weatherization Day, and were joined by James LaBar from the Governor’s Office.  Randy Olson, Jessi Adams and Rogelio Cortes, represented the Community Action network’s weatherization and energy programs by educating Housing Stability Council members on how weatherizing homes improves the health and safety of families, reduces energy bills and preserves affordable housing stock.

Thank you Community Action for your hard work and commitment to improving the lives of low-income families in Oregon.

From left to right: Kurt Pugh, OHCS, Jessi Adams, CAO, Rogelio Cortes, Mid-Willamette, Randy Olson, CAO, Janet Merrell, CAPO, Dan Elliott, OHCS, James LaBar, Governor’s Office, Michael Figueredo, OHCS, Anna Geller, Housing Stability Councilperson, Sarah Mentzer, OHCS, Val Valfre, Chair, Housing Stability Council, Mary Li, Housing Stability Councilperson, Zee Koza, Housing Stability Councilperson, Claire Seguin, Deputy Director, Housing Stabilization, OHCS, Margaret Salazar, Director, OHCS

NeighborImpact launches the Principal Reduction Program for low income homeowners

CAPO member organization, NeighborImpact, is promoting a new program for low income folks in the central part of our state. The program, known as the Principal Reduction Program, helps low-income households by lowering their mortgage payments through a combination of principal reduction and refinancing. For eligible families, the program will pay down the principal of their mortgage by up to $50,000, which reduces their monthly payment making it more affordable to stay in their homes.

The program serves veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities on fixed incomes of no more than 125% of state median income. News channel 21 in Bend did a story profiling the first family to be helped by the PRP.

Applications for the PRP may be submitted through the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) website.

NeighborImpact’s HomeSource also runs an array of other homeowner assistance services in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, including financial and energy conservation workshops, homeowner coaching, weatherization grants, and more. Visit their website for more information.

Construction Begins on UCAN’s New Roseburg Head Start Building

In late July, ground was broken for a new UCAN Head Start Center that will serve children from throughout Douglas County. The 11,800 square-foot facility will feature seven classrooms, a family service room, a health screening room, and a natural play area. The building will be located adjacent to UCAN’s primary Douglas County service center and will be serviced by UCAN’s own fleet of UTrans buses. The location and access by public transit will make it much easier for families of young children and pregnant women served in Early Head Start/Head Start to obtain wrap-around services best meeting their needs. Up to 280 children can receive services on any given day at the new Center.

UCAN began raising funds for the Center in 2015. After The Ford Family Foundation generously offered to match local donations 3:1 for an amount of up to $1.25 million dollars, community donors and local foundations came together to provide more than the amount needed to raise Ford’s maximum grant amount. The Meyer Memorial Trust and The Collins Foundation provided additional, substantial grant funding. The City of Roseburg successfully obtained $1.5 million in CDBG funds from Oregon’s Infrastructure Finance Authority on behalf of the project and is working closely with UCAN to support development of the Center.

For decades, UCAN has had to move its classrooms from one leased location to another, each time causing great disruption to families and staff. Moves have been expensive, costing anywhere between $50,000 to $150,000. The new Center, which should be completed in Spring of 2019, will provide a permanent home for Head Start and Early Head Start services beginning in the Fall of 2019. Michael Fieldman, UCAN’s Executive Director, states: “Eventually, we want to make this an early childhood service center, as we have a variety of programs that serve early childhood families.” As he points out, families with young children will further benefit from having these programs provided on Roseburg’s nonprofit campus, which also houses the Family Development Center (a local relief nursery), the Umpqua Community Health Clinic, and the Fish Pantry.

Submitted by:

Breaking New (Play)Ground

Last month volunteers gathered to prepare the Hillsboro Child Development Center for a whole new playscape. The playground areas for toddlers and preschool age children are both being reimagined to reflect a natural playscape. This playscape will encourage diverse and imaginative styles of play, and a stronger connection with the natural environment.


The first step was to remove all of the old equipment in preparation for the construction scheduled to happen later this month. Stay tuned to their Facebook page to track their progress! More pictures of the deconstruction can be found on Facebook as well.

You can support this project by making a donation today!

Oregon’s Community Action Network bids farewell to Jon Reeves

Jon Reeves was hired by Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action (MWVCAA) in 1998 to oversee the Child Care Information Services program, now called Child Care Resource & Referral.

In 2015, after 8 years as the director of MWVCAA’s Head Start program, Jon was hired as the Executive Director. 

Since 2015, the agency:

  • MWVCAA was asked to house Salem’s new youth shelter, expected to open in September 2018, and funded by United Way, Oregon Housing and Community Services and private donations.  The shelter (Taylors House) will fill regional service gaps for at-risk, homeless, runaway and street youth ages 11 – 18 years by offering around the clock holistic support to this vulnerable population at Taylor’s House.
  • Purchased a building in Salem to house the ARCHES Program, the umbrella program for housing and homeless services, including services to veterans.  In November 2018, the facility will add Marion County’s first sobering center.  The Sobering Center will provide a safe, clean and supervised space for intoxicated clients to sober, and serve as an avenue for service connection to detox and substance abuse treatment, in addition to other housing and homeless services offered through MWVCAA and other agencies.  This multi-disciplinary collaboration includes public, private and governmental investments to help relieve the financial and service pressure on our hospital and jail, pressures that have increased dramatically with the growing number of chronically homeless persons in Marion and Polk Counties.

Marion and Polk counties will miss Jon’s willingness to take on new challenges and address the difficult agency capacity issues, that made it possible for the region to experience significant new services designed to serve the most vulnerable citizens.

Jon is moving to a position in the Department of Education where, in the Early Learning Division, he will advance systems for infant and toddler programing.  We wish him well.

Jeff Sargent Steps Down as Executive Director of Yamhill Community Action Programs (YCAP)

Oregon’s Community Action network will miss Jeff Sargent, executive director of Yamhill Community Action Programs (YCAP).  Jeff served three years before stepping down at the end of June. 
Jeff believes that he is proudest of the work the agency has done to successfully house and support vulnerable people in Yamhill County.  Jeff said, “I would say the fact that we have been placing homeless people and families into stable homes or keeping them in their homes, and we’ve been getting more emergency food out the door to those who need it.”
Sargent started his job at YCAP just as the visibility of homelessness in McMinnville increased.  When leaders of McMinnville Cooperative Ministry began allowing homeless people to sleep overnight on the church grounds in the fall of 2014, more people took notice of the issue.
Since then, many local residents united with YCAP to find solutions to the homeless problem. “However, Jeff added, finding answers to the many questions raised by homelessness takes time.”  Jeff’s advice to Yamhill County, “Stay the course because it’s a long process.  There are no easy solutions, as communities have seen all over the country.”
Sargent and his wife Julia, are moving to Keizer for what he called “a sabbatical”.  They have no firm plans for what they will do afterward.  Jeff said, “I expect I will still be connected with nonprofits and social services in some form.”   
After selling their home, Jeff and Julia did experience what many people have discovered when looking for a place to rent.  The high housing prices in Yamhill County forced them to find a rental in Keizer.
The job announcement for his position at YCAP has been posted and is available on the agency website.
At the CAPO annual board meeting in June, the CAPO Board of Directors wished Jeff well.  He will be missed.

Published in:
Yamhill Valley News Register

Vital Repairs Help Mother, Daughter Remain in their Home

Maria no longer felt safe in her own home, where she lives with her daughter, Margarita, in rural Malheur County in eastern Oregon. Wind blew in through the cracks around the windows, and water leaked through the roof. But with her low monthly income, Maria could not afford repairs. She was stressed, unsure what to do, and imagined the house might simply fall apart around them while they slept.

A friend suggested they talk to Community in Action, and Maria learned she qualified for assistance from the nonprofit, which had recently received a Housing Preservation Grant from USDA Rural Development to expand their assistance to low-income residents to help make critical repairs to their homes. Marie was one of six residents in Malheur County to receive a grant from Community in Action supported by this USDA program to cover the costs of her home’s maintenance needs.

With this financial assistance, Maria was able to replace her windows and install a new metal roof. Then, midway through construction, the home’s sewer system backed up into the shower and sinks. She and her daughter had to use a neighbor’s bathroom, which was especially difficult for Maria, who uses a walker. When Community in Action learned of the problem, they stepped in and repaired the plumbing as well, still at no cost to the homeowner.

“Without the USDA program, I don’t know what we would have done,” said Maria. “And Community in Action was great to work with.”

The repairs are even saving her money. With the new windows providing improved weatherization, her energy bill was significantly lower this past winter.

“Now I don’t have to worry about drafts coming in all the windows,” said Maria, “and I don’t have to worry about the roof leaking.”

Maria and Margarita now feel safe in their own home. Without the constant stress of knowing the house needed repairs that were too costly, they are enjoying their daily lives again and happy to know they can stay in their home.

Submitted by:
Community in Action