“Before I moved to Huston Commons, I moved at least once a year. I’ve never lived anywhere for five years before. It’s great! This is my home.” — Dawn, one of the first Huston Commons tenants
Huston Commons, the third Preble Street Housing First program to open, turned five this month! That’s five years of safe, supported housing for the 30 tenants who live there.
Together, the tenants of Huston Commons spent thousands of nights living in shelters, in the woods, or under bridges before finding their way to the furnished efficiency apartments where they now reside in Portland. A home for good.
These tenants are adults, mostly seniors, of all genders, who have experienced long-term homelessness and have struggled with substance use disorders, complex trauma, mental illness, chronic physical ailments, co-occurring disorders, and other disabilities.
But despite the traumas they have endured, these resilient individuals and the staff that work with them have created a supportive, strong, and joyous community.
“Once folks move into the Housing First programs, we can move from meeting immediate needs to helping people remember what the beautiful parts of life are,” says Brittney Dunham (she/her), Senior Director of Residential Programs. “That ability to create really positive atmospheres for and with tenants… it just makes it a fun place to be.”
“It’s just incredible to see,” shares Eden Silverthorne (she/her), Huston Commons Supervisor. “We have one tenant, he has grown so much in his time living there. And now he’s motivating and inspiring others to take steps to accomplish what they’re trying to do.”
“Tenants celebrate and encourage each other,” adds Brittney. “They are equally as happy as staff when something good happens for someone else. It’s part of this communal dynamic that you don’t get to see in a traditional apartment building.”
As with our other Housing First programs at Logan Place and Florence House, our partner Avesta Housing developed, owns, and manages the building. Preble Street provides on-site staffing, including social work services for tenants 24/7, 365 days/year.
Preble Street Housing First programs are based on simple principles — everybody deserves housing and the support necessary to maintain it. As social justice advocate and former Preble Street client Steve Huston — the program’s namesake — once said “We all deserve the dignity of a home.”