Hanging out with my family at my childhood home makes me so happy. And not just because of all the people here who will happily play with my kids while I take selfies.
Back in 2008, I provided research support for Erik Sten on a paper he wrote describing how Portland made a big dent in homelessness.
Under Erik's leadership as city commissioner, Portland reduced its homeless population by 70% from 2005-2008.
How did they do it? They started by listening to the homeless population and understanding the various factors that contributed to their circumstances.
As a result, Portland's Home Again program supported 1,560 chronically homeless individuals moving into permanent housing, coordinating services to provide drug rehab and job training on-site at their homes. New partnerships between churches, nonprofits, hospitals and jails formed to work together in the fight to end homelessness in Portland.
I'll never forget one of the first conversations I had with Erik when we were coming up with the outline for the paper. He asked me to think about what "home" meant to me. And then he asked me to imagine what life would be like without it. Of course, I cried.
Homelessness is not just the absence of a roof over your head. It's the absence of home.
Today, I'm grateful for home.
Download a copy of A Human Connection: How Portland Made a Huge Dent in Chronic Homelessness. A decade later, the fight continues in Portland, but there are some great ideas that you might consider borrowing if you want to make ending homelessness a priority in your community.
What's one word that describes home for you?
Originally published on Instagram. If you'd like to connect with me there, I'm @titilayo.