For the majority of our members, living in a single room occupancy hotel (SRO) is an isolating experience. These housing options are some of the least desirable in Portland. Many SRO hotels have small, hot rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens down the hall. These residences are paid for weekly or monthly, which creates a community of isolation and transition. What happens when someone wants to move out of these places, but their options are limited, because their income is way below what is needed to move somewhere else. Where do they go and how do they find a new place to call home?
This situation is a very common among our members, including Don. Don is a Portland native who served in the Marine Corps for six years. Don also enjoys writing and annually participates in the Write Around Portland program hosted at Macdonald Center. Don has been a member of Macdonald Center since 2001 and has been receiving supportive services from Macdonald Center, including health care management and weekly grocery shopping. A long time Old Town resident, Don has lived in a number of SROs. After many years of living in such rooms, Don was ready for a change; but with a limited income and little knowledge of the housing system, he needed extra help.
In early 2015, Don was referred to the HUB program, a new, innovative Multnomah County program that partners with Macdonald Center to better care for our city’s most vulnerable populations. The partnership officially began in the fall of 2014 and will continue for a total of 18 months. The goals of the partnership are multi-faceted and include; stabilizing health and housing for participants; supporting participation with a primary care provider; encouraging engagement with some form of mental health and/or behavior health treatment; encouraging social/community engagement; reducing utilization of crisis/emergency and in-patient resources in the community; and improving cross-system coordination and collaboration for the benefit of participants. Overall, the program’s aim is to help our members be less isolated, increase their overall health and assist them in navigating the multitude of systems, including health care and housing. Don met the criteria to be a part of the program and his current case workers at Macdonald Center began to work as a team with HUB to find him better housing.
Don is now settling into his new one bedroom apartment just a few blocks away from his last place. He was also given a voucher to another Macdonald Center partner, Community Warehouse, where he was able to pick out new furniture and necessities. In contrast to Don’s last place, that had little light and no space, Don now lives on the ground floor, right by a small atrium space that provides valuable daylight. A large and unusual antique boat hangs from the ceiling like a chandelier in the middle of the atrium. Don’s one bedroom apartment is spacious. There are high ceilings with ceiling fans to keep the room comfortable. The beautiful hardwood floors have been restored and there are new appliances, including a dishwasher. When asked about his new home, Don smiles from ear-to-ear. He says, “This place is so nice compared to the last few places I have been. It feels so nice to have my own private and quiet place!”
Macdonald Center is pleased to work together with our partners in the HUB project—especially when we see such wonderful outcomes for our members like Don.