United Way of the Columbia-Willamette believes that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home. We are committed to Housing Justice and ensuring that all members of our community have access to safe, stable and affordable housing.
Housing stability is the key to reducing intergenerational poverty and increasing economic mobility. Housing insecurity and homelessness have far-reaching consequences for the quality of American family life, the economy, and the future of housing stability, which is why we work to mobilize support and resources that improve housing security throughout our region.
Our housing initiative focus on improving:
- Housing Justice and Advocacy: Oregon has a long history of housing discrimination that racially targeted people of color, particularly within the rental housing market. While policies and practices of discrimination have been banned, many practices of discrimination still exist that negatively impact communities of color. A recent U.S. Census Household Pulse survey revealed continued higher rates of housing insecurity and risk of eviction and homelessness among households of color and households with children. African American and renters of Latin American descent (especially women), families with children, and renters in certain geographies are at disproportionately higher risk for eviction than other renters.
poverty level, due to high job losses, underemployment, and economic instability. State economists report that Oregon is short 111,000 housing units, primarily those that would help lower-income households. For reference, out of 100 units in the Portland Metro area, only four are available for rent and of those four only one is affordable for extremely low-income households. It is important to understand that an Oregonian earning the minimum wage of $13.50 an hour would need to work 68 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment
Affordable Housing: Housing stability has been a struggle for low-income households to obtain for decades. Over the last two decades the average monthly rent in the Portland Metro area has increased by 83 percent. It became increasingly difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, even for households above the
- Homelessness: Homelessness is not only a crisis in Oregon, it’s a crisis throughout the United States. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress reports that on any given night, there are 538,357 individuals unsheltered and experiencing homelessness. According to Oregon's (PIT) Point In Time Count, on the night of January 26, 2022, 6,633 people were counted and homeless in the Portland Metro area. This number does not account for folks who are “doubled up” and “couch surfing” with friends and family. An accurate account of the number of people of color is not available as they are less likely to be “street homeless and may be doubled up” or “couch surfing and are underrepresented in the PIT count as a result of that.
Black and Indigenous people continue to be dramatically overrepresented in homelessness systems with people identifying as Black making up 12 percent of the total U.S. population, yet they represent 37 percent of all people experiencing homelessness, and half of all people experiencing homelessness as members of families with children. Oregon’s housing market has had a direct impact on homelessness and has contributed to the perfect storm that has been brewing for decades which has led us to where we are now. High rent, low vacancy rates, and gentrification has significantly impacted our most vulnerable community members. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated already fragile economic conditions specifically for communities of color, low and extremely low-income households, elderly and disabled individuals and households.
United Way of the Columbia Willamette intends to support innovative and creative ideas to help ensure that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.
The Eviction Legal Defense program serves to promote housing stability for low-income tenants and mitigate the negative long-term impacts of evictions which include homelessness, decreased health outcomes, job loss, poor educational performance for children, and housing discrimination. To date, the Eviction Legal Defense Program has helped 823 households stay housed and has committed $2.5 million in assistance. The program aims in particular to provide targeted assistance to BIPOC communities, who are disproportionately affected by the housing crisis.
Check out shared dashboard (created by Portland Housing Bureau) to see more details on those we've helped stay housed:
NOTE: We are working on adding more resources specifically for residents in Clackamas and Washington counties.
Eviction Prevention: United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, in partnership with the Portland Housing Bureau, Oregon Law Center, Portland State University, PCC’s Clear Clinic, and Metropolitan Public Defender, has implemented the Eviction Legal Defense Program to assist Portland renters facing eviction.
Rental Assistance: If you are looking for information on accessing rental assistance, you can:
- Call 211 FIRST for information on how to access rental assistance.
- Check if you qualify for Multnomah County Emergency Rent Assistance or the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
- Calculate how much rent you can afford with this calculator.
Utility Assistance: There are many ways to get help if you are struggling to pay for your utilities:
- 211Info - Call 211 for direct assistance in finding the Utility Assistance that will work best for you.
- Oregon Energy Fund (Formerly Heat Oregon) - (971)-386-2124 OR email email@example.com.
- Our Just Future (Formerly Human Solutions) - For Heating/Power Utility Assistance, call (503)-405-7877. For Water Utility Assistance, call (503)-548-0217.
- Impact Northwest - You MUST call and leave a voicemail at (503)-294-7444. This is a multilingual hotline offering support for Vietnamese, Russian, English and Spanish speakers.
- Oregon Health and Safety Hotline - 1-800-453-5511.
- Self Enhancement, Inc. - Call at (503)-713-5590 or book through their web portal to receive an appointment.
- Portland General Electric Payment Matching Service - call (800)-542-8818 Monday through Friday 7:00am to 7:00pm.
- Pacific Power Energy Assistance - Connect with the organization that serves your county, you can find a list of those organizations here.
- Portland Water Bureau Bill Assistance Program - Call (503)-823-7770, email PWBCustomerService@portlandoregon.gov or fill out their online application to see if you qualify.
Eviction: If you are being evicted or threatened with eviction, you can:
- Call or email the Oregon Law Center at (888) 585-9638 and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fill out this digital form from Oregon Law Center.
- Contact PCC Clear Clinic's Eviction Legal Defense Program at (971)-722-5981.
- Call or text The Commons Law Center at (503)-850-0811.
- Mediation: Avoid court if possible by contacting a third-party mediator through Resolutions Northwest. Contact them at (503)-595-4890 or email@example.com.
- Read through this Eviction Defense Toolkit from People's Action. Though the toolkit has outdated information concerning the now lapsed Federal Eviction Moratorium, there is valuable information.
- Home Share Oregon - Call (503)-515-2397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on finding a place to live alongside someone willing to share their home.
- Metropolitan Public Defender
- Portland Community College Clear Clinic - you can seek help in expunging your eviction at PCC Clear Clinic on Fridays from 12-4p.m.
- Oregon Law Help
- Find information and ask questions about your rights as a renter by contacting the City of Portland Rental Services Office at (503)-823-1303 or email@example.com. The office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9-11a.m. and 1-4p.m.
- Visit www.OregonLawHelp.org and look over their page on landlord-tenant law.
- Contact the Community Alliance of Tenants through their hotline at (503)-288-0130 and look through their Know Your Rights information.
- If you are living in a manufactured or marina community, visit Oregon's Manufactured and Marina Communities Resource Center.
- Find solidarity and support by joining the Facebook group PDX Renters Unite!
- Portland Tenants United offers a broad spectrum of support throughout or region, if you are looking for other tenant unions in your specific community, look through the list below:
- North Portland Tenants Collective - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Living Cully - Contact their housing action team at (503)-995-0250
- Lents Strong Housing Team - (971)-319-0444 or LentsStrong@gmail.com
- Oregon Renters in Action (formerly SE Portland Renters in Action) - (503)-995-0250 or email@example.com
- Statewide: Residents Organizing for Change
- Statewide: Community Alliance of Tenants - (503)-288-0130
- Nationwide: Homes for All - (646)-360-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- For those experiencing homelessness currently, contact Right 2 Survive to learn about your rights and options: (503)-839-9992 or email@example.com
- Habitability: You must tell your landlord in writing about necessary repairs in order to have legal protections, so send a letter or hand deliver your notice to your landlord.
- If you are experiencing a habitability or ongoing maintenance issue, contact the Portland Neighborhood Inspections Program at (503)-823-2633.
- Download and look through Oregon Law Help's Renter's Handbook on Repairs.
Culturally Specific Organizations
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette knows that complex issues we encounter in pushing for housing stability require a cohort of connected partner organizations for the most effective and just outcome. We are happy to collaborate with and promote the work of the culturally specific organizations below.
Africa House - Provides a “one-stop” family-focused service center with the goal of raising the visibility of the African community, highlighting community achievements, and helping the community and families achieve self-sufficiency and self-determination.
Asian Family Center - Assists Asian families and youth in becoming self-sufficient and contributing members to the American society. Since 1994, AFC has become a visible focal point and strong network in the Asian community as well as mainstream services in supporting Asian children, young people and their families.
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s Russian Oregon Social Services - Seeks to integrate the Russian-speaking population into metro Portland and SW Washington by providing services such as English (ESL) classes, citizenship preparation classes, community orientation, agency referrals, domestic violence services, mental health counseling, breast health education, dental care and pro-bono legal consultations.
El Programa Hispano-Catholic Charities - Serves low-income Latino residents of metro Portland by providing emergency economic assistance, self-sufficiency activities, mental health counseling, domestic violence case management, and youth services.
Hacienda Community Development Corporation - Develops affordable housing, healthy living, and economic development to build thriving communities in support of working Latino families and others in Oregon.
Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) - Assists refugees, immigrants, and multi-ethnic communities in the metro Portland area to be self-sufficient, healthy, and integrate into the community at large. Focuses on a variety of social and employment services.
Impact NW: Multicultural Senior Center - 4610 SE Belmont Call for availability 503-988-6020 Transit: Bus 15, MAX Blue
Latino Network - Promotes social change by cultivating the power of the Latino community. Services seek to strengthen community voice, cultivate financial, educational, and leadership skills, and build trusting, supportive relationships between community members and among service organizations.
Native American Rehabilitation Association - Provides education, physical and mental health services and substance abuse treatment that is culturally appropriate to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other vulnerable populations.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) - Promotes social justice and opportunity for all people through education, empowerment, and engagement.
NAYA Family Center - Enhances the diverse strengths of Native American youth and families in partnership with the community through cultural identity and education.
Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable - A group of representatives and leaders from more than 20 Native organizations promoting the use of accurate information about the Native community.
Self Enhancement Inc. - Guides underserved African-American youth to realize their full potential. Works with schools, families and community organizations to provide opportunities for personal and academic success, bring hope to individual young people and enhance the quality of community life.
Slavic Coalition of Oregon - Promotes advocacy, leadership and cultural awareness of the communities of Eastern and Central- European origin.
Urban League of Portland - Empowers African Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment and economic security through a combination of direct services, outreach and advocacy.
Verde - Seeks to improve the economic health of disadvantaged communities by creating environmental job training, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, fostering the connection between economic vitality and environmental protection and restoration.