Housing First is exactly what it sounds like: the idea is that people do better when they have permanent housing — and then are more likely to access services like counseling and rehab.
So Preble Street worked with the affordable housing developer Avesta and the Portland Housing Authority to create a Housing First building complex. Logan Place opened in 2005 with 30 units.
“There was a lot of skepticism, it was a big risk for all three organizations, we talk all the time that it was a transformational moment for this agency literally the night it opened,” says Swann.
Swann has called that night the best of his career. And today Preble Street operates three similar residences that provide permanent housing and services for 85 people who were once chronically homeless.
…with housing first, people are given a safe, stable place to live and offered support, whether its for substance use disorder, mental illness, physical health or employment training.
“We really feel housing is itself therapeutic,” said Hillary Colcord, the director of Huston Commons, a housing-first facility in Portland.
Portland has three separate developments dedicated to housing the long-term homeless: Logan Place, Florence House, and Huston Commons. Each one was built by Avesta Housing and is staffed by the nonprofit social services agency Preble Street.
“It’s pretty remarkable to see people transitioning out of survival mode, worrying day-to-day and night-to-night about where they’re going to be … and (to see) people starting to believe they’re worth getting the medical care they have not had for a long time,” said Ali Lovejoy, the senior director of residential services at Preble Street.
Some members of Portland’s homeless population now have a place to call home.
Preble Street officially opened the third complex of its Housing First initiative: Houston Commons, an apartment complex designed to help the chronically homeless by providing a permanent place for them to live. Huston Commons houses 30 people who have been living on the streets of the city for years.
The building was paid for through a tax credit, it’s staffing and social work is paid for through private grants- Preble Street Resource Center is a non-profit.
Avesta Housing and Preble Street have opened Portland’s third “housing first” program, Huston Commons, which is now home to 30 formerly homeless individuals with chronic health challenges.
Located near Morrill’s Corner at 72 Bishop St. in Portland, Huston Commons was named for Steve Huston, a former Preble Street employee who experienced and overcame homelessness and who was an eloquent and forceful advocate for housing first. “We all deserve the dignity of … a home,” he once said.
A more than quarter of a million dollar grant is being given to Preble Street Resource Center in Portland- money that the non-profit’s staff say will help end the cycle of chronic homelessness for many people.
The KeyBank Foundation is giving $300,000 to Preble Street over the next three years. The money will help bolster the shelter’s Housing First program, which provides permanent housing to those who have been living their lives on the streets the longest. Executive Director of Preble Street, Mark Swann, says while about 80% of people who are homeless are only homeless temporarily, about 15-20% struggle to overcome addiction and mental illness and often remain homeless for years or even decades. Swann says permanent housing allows them to start down the road to wellness.
Preble Street, a Portland nonprofit focused on reducing homelessness, will receive $300,000 from KeyBank’s charitable arm.
KeyBank Foundation will make the grant over three years.
The donation is part of a Key’s National Community Benefits Plan, which will commit $16.5 billion to community development and investment over five years. The plan will cover Key’s 15-state footprint and be initiated in four areas: mortgage ($5 billion), small business lending ($2.5 billion), community development lending ($8.8 billion) and investment and philanthropy ($175 million).
The funding will expand Preble Street’s current “Housing First” support services and increase the permanent supportive housing it can provide from 55 to 85 individuals.
Photo: Brianna Soukup | Portland Press Herald
In Joe Meyers’ new apartment, he has a potted succulent on the windowsill. He has a bed with a blue bedspread. He has shelves stocked with oatmeal and canned vegetables.
But his favorite part is the door.
“I can close the door and be left alone,” Meyers said. “This is a life-changing type of thing. I’m 62, but this is still a life-changing type of thing.”
Meyers has been homeless in Portland off and on for 17 years. He is one of 30 new tenants at Huston Commons, Portland’s third housing development for the chronically homeless. The apartment building is owned by Avesta Housing and run by Preble Street…[Read more]