Portland’s New Homelessness Web Portal

Originally Published on the ECOreport

On any given night, there are 3,800 people sleeping in Portland’s streets, shelters or temporary housing. The city of Portland has received countless phone calls, e-mails, and social media messages requesting information about this problem. “We heard them, and we responded with an easily accessible warehouse of information,” says Mayor Charles Hales.  Portland’s New Homelessness Web Portal (the “Homelessness Toolkit“) is an invaluable database of information on all aspects of the city’s homelessness initiatives, from safe sleeping guidelines to volunteer opportunities.

St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church downtown.

Portland’s New Homelessness Web portal

Speaking as someone who searches the web on a daily basis, this is an exceptionally simple design that allows viewers to find the answers they are looking for in seconds. I recommend it as a model of how websites should be designed.

Click on the image below to access it.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 6.46.54 AM

Here are a few questions I posed and the answers:.

Q: Where can I find a place to sleep?

There are numerous places listed under the tab “Shelter & Temporary Places to Sleep” They range from drop-in sites, day services and emergency shelters to year round shelter. “And, there is no better resource than calling 2-1-1; texting 898211; or searching 211info.org for the latest options.”

Q: How is the battle is going ?

cards photoAccording to the webpage “Homelessness Statistics,“ over the past two years there has been a 17% decrease in the number of chronic homelessness among adults and a 27% drop in the percentage of people who have been without a home for over two years. However the number of unsheltered Afro-Americans has gone up 48%

Q/ What can I do if  homeless people have set up a camp in my neighbourhood?

“There continue to be camps that run afoul of the City’s temporary tolerance of low-impact camping. Those camps typically are large, unorganized ones with many structures, significant amounts of trash, and criminal activity. In those circumstances, the City will work to move the camp, and to do so in the least traumatic, most compassionate manner. That process,mandated in the settlementof the Anderson v. Portland lawsuit, requires the City to post notification at the camp that they will have to leave. As soon as the landowning City Bureau decides to remove the camp, outreach workers will work with campers to find other locations for them to either camp in a low-impact manner or to move indoors.

“The City then posts notification, which gives from 24 hours to 7 days for people to pack up and leave. …” – Frequently Asked Questions 

Q/ What can I do to help?

4fast handsThere are numerous opportunities to help, and contact numbers , listed under How You Can Help.  You can:

  • help distribute informational postcards about the new Safe Sleep Policy guidelines (in English and Spanish).
  • help sort clothing,  provide meals or volunteer your time to administrative assistance at Transition Projects, Inc. They also need:  Adult-sized new or gently-used clean winter clothing (coats, socks, boots, etc); Hygiene items (any size, unused);
    New or gently-used clean linens (twin-sized bed sheets and comforters, towels, etc) Contact: Lauren Holt, [email protected]
  • become a member of Join, an organization supporting “the efforts of homeless individuals and families to transition out of homelessness into permanent housing.” Contact: Shannon Singleton, 503-232-7052, ext 101
  • join Central City Concern, an organization that helps homeless people find housing, medical care and employment
  • Take part in the New City Initiative, an organization partnered with the faith community that helps families transition out of shelter  into permanent housing.” Contact: Susanna Rempel, [email protected]

Portland’s Goal: A Home For Everyone

Four months into the State of Emergency in Housing and Homelessness, I’m asking Portlanders for continued patience and a recognition that we are all in this together,” Mayor Hales said. “Until we reach our goal of having a permanent home for all Portlanders, our short-term approach is to balance the need for people sleeping outside to be safe, with the entire city’s need for health, safety and livability.

Photo Credits: All images taken from Portland’s “Homelessness Toolkit

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