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When Village Portland started to hear from several advocates that East and Southeast Portland might be missing 120 emergency warming shelter beds this winter it inspired us to investigate further.
Clackamas Service Center, Central Nazarene, and Sunnyside Methodist Church each housed an emergency warming shelter at their respective facilities in 2018 but two of those places probably won’t be able to operate as a shelter this year.
That would result in leaving over a hundred more houseless individuals who call the stretch of bike trail along I-205 home to face potentially freezing weather.
According to their website, Joint Office of Homeless Services open emergency warming centers ten to 20 times a year:
Marc Jolin, director of the JOHS, wrote in an email on October 25th that they expect to have the same severe weather shelter capacity as they did last year. JOHS capacity doesn’t include Clackamas County or independent shelters.
According to Jolin, Nazarene and CSC were both Clackamas County operations last year, and said that he can’t speak to what they’re doing this season. Sunnyside was an independent project, and he’s aware that they won’t be open this year.
“We are currently in the process of finalizing our winter and severe weather shelter capacity plans,” Jolin stated, adding that a representative from his office would reach out to Village Portland when it was complete. We’re still waiting to hear back from them over two weeks later, and will update the story when we get the final plan.
“In terms of the region I have less information, but there is a table summarizing shelter capacity in this recent shelter study from the state,” he wrote.
According to the 2019 Multnomah County Point-in-Time Count, even with the over 1,400 emergency warming shelter beds available more than 2,000 of Portland’s houseless remained on the street. 2019’s count also showed a significant increase, 22%, in the number of people living unsheltered on the streets.
The count indicated that this is because more volunteers conducted the outdoor portion of the count in 2019 than in previous years.
Volunteer and financial need
There are several reasons why each place were unsure about having a warming shelter at their facilities this winter.
Clackamas Service Center was not only understaffed but also overcrowded at their facilities which resulted in unsatisfactory conditions on multiple occasions and some damages, said Krista Harper, CSC Volunteer Coordinator.
Costly cleaning and repairs from last year’s shelter are making them unsure of opening this year. Clackamas Service Center could only have around 24 guests for their shelter. CSC also paid their emergency shelter staff, another burden for the community supported non-profit.
We recently learned that Clackamas Service Center will be able to open their emergency warming shelter in partnership with non-profit Do Good Multnomah.
The organization “partners with the community to provide permanent supportive housing and low-barrier emergency shelter to houseless veterans in Portland” and accept referrals at their Wy’east Shelterhere.
Central Nazarene, which has nearly completed opening a tiny house community called Agape Village, believes they will already have a difficult time providing proper support to the village and the warming shelter without more volunteers and financial support than was received last year. Because of that, pastor Matt Huff said their emergency last year probably won’t be open this year.
Depending on the number of volunteers they had for overnight shifts, they were able to have around 80 or more guests at their facilities and it will be the biggest loss of beds out of both.
We interviewed Huff as part of a story on church service work in Portland. Watch it below:
Sunnyside Methodist, however, has simply changed hands from last year and the group of volunteers who usually help with the warming shelter, Beacon PDX, were forced out by the new church. While all their situations might be inconveniencing to them it is the houseless of southeast Portland who will suffer the most from this.
The volunteers of Beacon PDX are still trying to find another location for their work. Learn more about their story in the tribute below:
MEWS was begun by a small group of volunteers in the brutal winter of 2017. A core of six to eight volunteers held down the shifts and did training, and 20 to 40 neighbors ended up volunteering throughout that winter, he said.
From fund raising to cleaning to long overnight shifts, it was an impressive, massive effort from neighbors. We wrote about it here.
Ogden keeps in contact with the volunteer groups that organize the warming shelters, so we asked him some questions about preparations— beginning with his opinion on whether if the community was prepared for this season.
“No, not really, and since having taken a few of the only family shelters offline last year, there’s not been any plan to speak of as far as I’m aware,” he wrote.
211, a non-profit organization that connects people with health and social service organizations, told him that they have reached out to MEWS and Portland Assembly to make sure they were planning to run this year.
He said that they have learned a lot for this year based on their experience from previous years.
“Johnnie Shaver had started by himself a few years back and our Neighborhood Action Council decided to take up the project (help with training, resources, ect.) but he was super badass and definitely had it down to a science,” Ogden said. “There’s a good amount of documentation for this year to train more people,” he said.
If you’d like to support MEWS, there are two volunteer trainings in December, opportunities to donate, and a craft fair on December 14th all listed on their Facebook page.
He said that Wapato Jail is a solution the PPA is pushing, but he said he thinks it’s “jail light”, too far away from downtown, and the service models they plan to use are ineffective and traumatic.
“The results really show that peer-run load bearing shelter and camp models work best for people that they deem “service resistant” which is basically the city admitting they don’t know how to reach these people and then turn to victim blaming. The use / creation of that term should raise some alarms.”
Money is wasted on police who are not equipped for this issue, he said; money that should go to Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NET) or neighborhood associations to enable them to be a medical interface to the neighborhood.
Also what’s missing are survival programs that offer housing, food, power, water, and data as a human right.
“These are essential to life and should not be put on the market,” Ogden said.
Ogden says the same Wall Street tycoons that got into water 20 years ago are moving into multi-family housing— and are driving prices up for profit.
211 is offering trainings for emergency warming shelters and accepting donations of supplies here:
“In this class, local mushroom enthusiast Leah Bendlin will teach the basics of mushroom identification for beginners, including physical features, ecology and anecdotes about mushroom oddities and beauty.”
Leach Botanical Garden, 6704 SE 122nd Ave* 10 am * ???
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH
“Exploring the complexities and contradictions of gentrification, “Priced Out (2017) is a heartbreaking vision of the history of housing discrimination in the nation’s whitest city, and the personal impact it has had on residents.”
There’ll also be a table discussion and Q&A following. Light refreshments will be served.
Today when most of us think of Halloween we probably think mainly of children’s activities like trick-or-treating and community parties. Looking back at the early 20th Century we find many similarities in the ways Halloween was celebrated, but also some striking differences.
For example, the old tradition of Halloween pranks that came to the United States with Scottish and Irish immigrants in the mid-19th Century was gleefully taken up by boys (mostly) all over the country. In rural areas, which parts of Montavilla still were then, popular tricks were putting wagons and livestock on barn roofs, digging up vegetables in gardens, tipping over outhouses, and removing gates to let livestock escape. (These customs persisted into the mid-20th Century— I remember my father telling me about outhouse tipping in rural Montana.)
In the cities, Halloween devilry could be more dangerous and destructive. The Oregonian of November 1, 1910 proclaimed “Rowdyism Is Rife.” It reported three false fire alarms and a cable stretched across a streetcar track that caused the car to wrench from the tracks, hurling passengers from their seats. In 1907, Juvenile Court Judge Calvin U Gantenbein handled 40 cases of Halloween delinquents, including a youth who greased a streetcar on a downgrade hoping to cause a runaway car, which, of course, could have killed or injured many passengers. The delinquents, he said, thought they were justified because it was Halloween (The Oregon Daily Journal, October 28, 1908).
Nationally, Halloween violence and looting grew even worse during the Great Depression, although the local mischief described by The Montavilla Times of October 30, 1931 was of a milder sort. One popular prank was covering windows with bar soap and tallow, dumping garbage cans on front lawns and cutting down clothes lines. According to The Montavilla Times of Oct. 31, 1929, you could foil such window smearing by washing windows with glycerine or kerosene.
Despite the Halloween devilry, in the early 20th Century, parties were the most common way to celebrate the holiday. These could be held in homes or social halls by private individuals or organizations. They could be for adults and/or for children. Since, by this time, Halloween had also become more commercialized hosts could buy ready-made Halloween merchandise and consult books, magazines and newspapers about how to plan a successful event. They could buy Halloween cards, masks, party favors, noisemakers, pumpkin pies, even special Halloween cookies.
Ad in The Montavilla Times, Oct. 30, 1931
Adult parties tended to be more on the spooky side, and carried forward many of the customs and themes that go back to Celtic celebrations of the transition between the bounty of the fall harvest and the dormancy of winter. Called Samhain (pronounced sow-in), this was commemorated the night of October 31, a time when the ghosts of the dead supposedly returned to earth.
This association of ghosts with Halloween, of course, continues to the present. It was also a popular theme in early Montavillan celebrations. At one Montavilla party in 1902, for instance, a ghost greeted guests at the door and another ghost provided each of them with a sheet and pillowcase, so everyone could be ghosts. Lights were turned low— some hosts used only jack-o’-lanterns— to create an appropriately eerie atmosphere.
Another common feature starting with late Victorian adult parties was foretelling the future. This practice again goes back to the Celts, who believed their priests (Druids) were assisted by the returning ghosts in predicting the future. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, this translated into games meant to predict women’s marital prospects. A common game of bobbing for apples was played to determine which young lady would marry first. Often parties also included a fortune teller.
At a 1906 Montavilla party, for example, this was a major entertainment of the evening, where seven unmarried ladies along with nine men (marital status not given) were on the guest list published in The Oregon Daily Journal. Attesting to this now-forgotten romantic side of Halloween, The Oregonian of October 30, 1916 declared the holiday to be “the time of merry revelers, the eve when tradition declares love affairs are settled and fortunes told are sure to come true…”
A timely want ad in The Montavilla Times, Oct. 9, 1930
Divination was not the only entertainment at Halloween parties. There were also lots of games at both adult and children’s parties. The 500 card game was popular in the early 20th Century, but sometimes hosts were more inventive. Take the 1927 Montavilla party where guests were asked to come masked and dressed as ghosts. They were all seated in the living room and four judges were asked to guess the identity of each “ghost.” The last person to be recognized and unmasked received a prize.
Costumes, another theme going back to Celtic times, were popular at both adult and childrens’ parties. Sometimes costumes were even mandatory, as at a 1912 Michigan Society of Oregon party held in Grebel’s Hall at the corner of NE 80th Avenue and NE Stark Street. Anyone who came to that party sans costume was to be fined 10 cents.
Costumes— aside from the ever-popular ghost and witch— as today, varied according to current interests. Favorites in 1916, for example, were Theodore Roosevelt, President Wilson, Charlie Chaplin, suffragettes, college girls, sailors, and Mother Goose characters. Children’s costumes were less topical and more benign, as we see in the photo below.
Children’s Halloween Party at a Mount Tabor home Source: Oregon Daily Journal, Nov. 7, 1920 (Historical Oregon Newspapers)
By the 1920s, Halloween became more of a community holiday. The old practice of trick-or-treating was revived, although now children might trade mischief for candy instead of the earlier custom of reciting a rhyme or singing a song in exchange for a treat. (Trick-or-treating was curtailed during World War II due to sugar rationing, but was revived after the war.)
Halloween dances were another popular form of communal celebration. In 1926, two of these were held in different Montavilla community halls (back when Montavilla had such things): one at Community Hall at SE 79th Avenue and SE Stark Street and another at the The Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall at the southwest corner of NE 80th Avenue and NE Glisan Street.
In 1926, Montavillans could also choose to leave the neighborhood for the big Halloween celebration of the widening and lighting of Grand Avenue, newly made the widest business street in Portland. There they could find traditional orange and black decorations, Halloween window displays, live band music, and a Juvenile Merry-Maker’s Parade. The Montavilla Community Club received a special invitation to attend this lavish community event.
As you can see from these examples, Halloween already had many familiar aspects in the early 20th Century— costuming, motifs such as witches, ghosts and jack-o’-lanterns, trick-or-treating—but there was also a romantic side that has been lost and there were some really creative parties.
Did I mention the 1927 Montavilla party where the hosts recreated a forest in the basement, complete with lights twinkling in trees and foliage, where guests were treated to platters of doughnuts and cider? No? Well… I think those Montavillans knew how to have fun on Halloween. Don’t you?
If you want to know more about the fascinating history of Halloween— more than I could tell you here— you can find Nicholas Rogers’ “Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night” in the Multnomah County Library, available to read on your computer.
Historical story ideas? Questions about Montavilla’s past? Also share a love for neighborhood history?
Comment on the article at the link in the heading. Or you can reach out to Pat Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read all of the “Montavilla Memories” articles by Pat Sanders here.
Journalist and educator Lisa Loving and I definitely share a passion for community reporting and the need to help shape how media and reporting is evolving.
She asked me to speak about my work at a signing for her new book: “Street Journalist: Understand and Report the News in Your Community” this week.
I am thankful for her input on the work we’re doing, the opportunity to speak, and the entire evening’s discussion.
Ask for Loving’s book at your local bookstore, or purchase it online at Powell’s.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27TH
Academy Theater, 7818 SE Stark St * show times * $4 for adults, $3 for youth & seniors
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28TH
Learn more about the Johnson Creek Floodplain (event):
“Join us for a free, family-friendly event to learn more about the Johnson Creek floodplain and how to protect your family from flooding. Enjoy games, crafts, and raffle prizes. Grab a donut, coffee, or hot chocolate on us!
Representatives from Reed College, the Wharton School of Risk Management, Hagan Hamilton Insurance, and City of Portland Environmental Services will be available… “
The Montavilla Neighborhood Association has their election earlier this week.
According to their Facebook page, the new board consists of: Brad Donahue, Peter Emerson, Louise Hoff, Lindsey Johnson, Alice King, Matt Moore, and Ron Thrasher.
It’s good to see so many people step up to serve. It makes me wonder about the nearly 100 other neighborhoods in this city and how they are represented.
Portland neighbors put a lot of work into their neighborhood associations, but after a considerable time with a front-row seat at several, the institution always seems to attract trouble. Is this just the nature of humanity, or trying around geography? You’d think common ground was a good place to start.
While the conversation has been around how to bring new groups to the table, I’ve been wondering how we could fix the current system. Reform to the grievance system and more support and training to help board members encourage engagement are my first ideas…
If you have ideas, I’d like to hear them, and will be starting a story soon to bring more ideas forward. Thanks for reading and being involved as we work together to improve civic engagement.
This is the second of a five-episode series that played on Open Signal earlier this year. The series is a compilation of Village Portland videos that feature Portlanders organizing events and serving their community.
In this episode, we feature the annual Halloween party at Burnside Skatepark; the Portland Krampus Walk; a performance at a MLK celebration; a visit to the Grotto for their Christmas choir concerts; an interview with the designer of the Cascadian flag; and a look at the City of Portland’s Sunday Parkways.
Since its creation in 2018, the Portland State University‘s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative has dove headfirst into research and advocacy work centered around better approaches to handling the houselessness situation in Portland and abroad.
Several graduate students projects were presented for the HRAC at PSU’s Native American Student and Community Center on Thursday, October 10, 2019.
Stefanie Knowlton, a communications specialist with the center, introduced the speakers. “Research only matters or matters most when it reaches people,” Knowlton stated “We want people to understand and care about the effort to prevent and solve homelessness on our campus and in our community,” she went on to say that the research presented at the event is meant to inspire others to do similar work. She then introduced Dr. Marisa Zapata.
Hear more from Zapata on Elia’s podcast Tripp-p:
Before giving her speech, Dr. Zapata acknowledged the local tribes which inhabited the land that PSU occupies, and asking for a moment of silence out of respect for them. The entire room went silent to honor Zapata’s request.
Zapata recently published a study that shows that there are possibly as many as 38,000 people in the tri-county area who could be classifiable as living in an unstable housing situation or houseless.
When I was invited to the first of what is hoped to be many training sessions for those seeking to work as crisis workers for Portland Street Response I wasn’t sure what to expect. The invitation came from a local outreach group leader and White Bird-trained crisis worker Ree Campbell.
The training session was attended by around three dozen different advocacy and outreach group members affiliated with a wide number of organizations, most of them not representative of their organizations, instead there personally for the training.
The training for this session was a deeply comprehensive explanation of Eugene, Oregon’s CAHOOTS (Critical Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) model held at Taborspace on 54th and Belmont, late last month. The crisis workers’ role in Portland Street Response, which is being based on CAHOOTS), was the focus of the training.
The main speaker was Ben Brubaker of White Bird Clinic.
Brubaker gave a history of White Bird Clinic, CAHOOTS, and their histories not only in Eugene— but also with the Oregon Country Fair— providing medical and crisis services. “We started off at the Oregon Country Fair with a couple of band-aids and saying we are the medical clinic and now we are the fifth or sixth largest ER in the state during the weekend of the country fair.” This was answered by cheers from the attendees.
The CAHOOTS program is staffed by volunteers from the community. The Portland Street Response program is also planned to be run by volunteers, Brubaker said.
He went on to share some of the interactions he has had as a CAHOOTS crisis worker, including a story about a call that appeared to be an individual in a mental health crisis— but it ended up being a diabetic episode.
Brubaker then spoke on several different facets of the role of the crisis worker, but placed a special emphasis on how the interactions with mentally distressed or houseless individuals in a crisis state should be approached.
He explained that White Bird’s philosophy is that everyone deserves respect for their beliefs and personal experiences, and that the crisis worker’s role is to provide help where possible with the minimal amount of intervention needed to de-escalating an situation.
The use of self in the situation was another topic he touched on and how and that the crisis worker is the most valuable tool in the situation but to not be disheartened “if it isn’t resolved as hoped”. He elaborated on the use of voice during a situation and that you should “use the other person’s volume like a scaffolding” and that the worker should use a form of speech they feel the person having the issue will be most comfortable with.
For example, you wouldn’t want to speak super professionally with someone speaking with a lot of street slang. He also explained that a crisis worker should pay attention to their tone and not try to speak over the person. Several other main statements he made about being a crisis worker were “Speak with integrity”, “Don’t make assumptions”, and that a crisis worker who might have a bad interaction in the field should not take it personally.
“Body language can tell a lot about a person”, demonstrating how crossed arms show irritation. He explained that some people might not realize they are showing slightest signs of agitation by making facial expressions, and how that could be picked up on by the clients they are working with.
According to Brubaker, a crisis worker trainee will need to complete 500 hours of rigorous training in the field and pass multiple progress and proficiency examinations before being officially declared as a CAHOOTS crisis worker.
The crisis worker will also be required to keep track of the interactions they have in a logbook which they must also be trained to properly fill out. Training should be able to completed in around six months to a year.
Brubaker also shared that he is concerned that Portland’s Street Response might not be set up how he and other CAHOOTS workers feel it might be most effective. They envision a series of six or more teams in the different neighborhoods in Portland working together instead of it being one large team answering calls out of a specific headquarters.
Several advocates in attendance also expressed to Village Portland, that they are frustration with the local street paper Street Roots, Portland State University’s Homeless Research & Action Collaborative, and Hardesty‘s Office because it has so far appeared to those advocates, that they are trying to recruit crisis workers from PSU’s social worker program instead of the advocates, outreach workers, and groups that are already doing the work on the ground.
The whole event lasted over two hours and future trainings are already being planned.
Boots on the Ground PDX will be announcing events through their Facebook page here. The events are open to anyone who wants to get the training to be a Portland Street Response volunteer.
Cory Elia is a journalist, photographer, videographer, documentary director & producer, radio personality & podcaster. His journalistic focus is on politics, protest, and poverty.