Recent history has shown that many in Portland’s homeless population choose to live in self-designed communities or villages, rather than access current shelter systems. When one of these communities is forced to move, the residents “disappear” until they can find another location. When that happens, they are dislocated from service providers. Delivering consistent services is essential to moving the chronically homeless forward in their individual service and personal development plans.
Oregon Harbor of Hope’s ‘safe harbor’ model will:
- Provide geographically distributed safe spaces for unsheltered, chronically homeless individuals – including those with pets and partners
- Welcome those living with addiction, physical and mental disabilities or criminal histories
- Operate 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, with no time limit for guests
- Provide life-essential services (food, sleep areas, restrooms, medical care and showers)
- Provide opportunities for peer interaction and socialization
- Allow personal storage for a reasonable number of possessions
- Provide connection to medical and mental health services, on- and off-site
- Work to integrate services, drawing upon those agencies with capacity and experience
Safe harbors are different than other shelters.
Our strategy provides a rapid response to people living on the streets. It seeks to prioritize unmet needs to avoid duplicating services that already exist. The service design of this model is a very different approach and has a proven track record in other cities with similar strategies.
By gathering people into “harbor communities,” essential supportive care can be centralized, which in turn reduces costs for local agencies and government funders. These Safe Harbors possess a few key characteristics:
- They are non-coercive and low-barrier, meaning the traditional rule-based behavioral shelter model will not be imposed. OHOH will meet people where they are and support them in progressing at a pace that is right for them.
- They have a strong system of trained and professional case managers on-site with individual development plans for each guest.
- They will be supported by an electronic information system that facilitates intake, tracking, continuity of services, and rigorous evaluation.
- The private sector, led by an experienced nonprofit operator, will provide primary operational leadership, allowing for flexible and responsive implementation and strong oversight of the broad network of Portland’s public and private service providers.