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Bridges to Housing (B2H)
On any given night in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, well over 2,500 families (including about 4,000 children) are homeless. The personal and societal costs of homelessness are extreme. The stresses of homelessness can push parents and kids into a cycle of decline, with costly results.
We know that there are effective ways to assist homeless families. While some families are just temporarily down on their luck, many face significant challenges and need considerable help to achieve stability in their lives. Experience, locally and nationwide, shows that high-need homeless families can get back on their feet if they receive permanent housing along with intensive services designed specifically to help families build on their strengths and address their specific needs. Bridges to Housing is a program that provides this needed support.
Bridges to Housing is an innovative and holistic approach to the growing and alarming problem of family homelessness in the Portland Vancouver metropolitan area. Bridges to Housing offers hope for a better future to the families and their children who are served by the program and will inform local and national policy and practice.
Bridges to Housing represents a commitment to achieve significant individual, family and system outcomes through a realignment of the homeless family housing and service system in the four-county metropolitan area: Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington State. Governments and service providers have joined together, along with cities and housing authorities in the four-county region, to jointly develop Bridges to Housing. This is a significant step forward in terms of coordination, building a regional framework, and a commitment to best practices.Bridges to Housing works to:
- Support families in their efforts to obtain housing, overcome poverty and progress towards self-sustainability;
- Develop regional solutions to family homelessness;
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the program model in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty;
- Re-align public resources to more effectively assist homeless families, making necessary systems and policy changes at the local, regional, and state levels.
Bridges to Housing is a research effort in support of a change to the way we approach homelessness. Bridges to Housing allows housing and service providers across Multnomah, Washington Clackamas, and Clark counties to continue to work together to test and carefully document the human benefits and cost efficiencies of revamping the system and restructuring programs.
Bridges to Housing calls for a coordinated process between the four counties to ensure that projects use common definitions, offer consistent housing and services packages to families, and use common outcomes to evaluate program success. Centralization of program design and outcome tracking provides a basis for a sound evaluation and promotes systems change by maximizing communication and sharing of experiences across jurisdictional lines.