Homeless in Portland - help with resources?
April 17, 2016 11:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for resources and help to get myself out of the woods and into a home sooner - any ideas, Mefites? More details under the line

I have a job that has a shower and supportive coworkers, but only pays between 300-500/mo (massage at a non profit - hence the shower part being super important) and I'm trying to get self employment assistance through unemployment to make up the difference between what I make and a liveable income. A second job might be in the cards, but it'd have to have a shower. I have food stamps, and although I have friends I could crash on their couch for a night here and there, I do not wish to risk losing the few close friends I have by being an imposition on their life more than that. Those same friends will make sure I have food so between them, food stamps, and my new-found foraging knowledge, I'm not going hungry while I figure this out.

I'm teaching myself basic wilderness survival skills and plant identification skills while I'm looking at putting the pieces of my very suddenly disrupted life back together - because of that, my costs are minimal, and my spirits aren't totally ruined by this extremely sudden change. I am also talking to a therapist about the personal stuff that lead to this (to be honest, i'm amazed it hasn't happened sooner in my life) - this, my cell phone, and the food for my cat who is in the care of a friend are my only expenses, and total ~150/mo

I'm on a timeline of 6 months before I need to take my cat back from said friend and have my shit together enough to pay rent/utilities/needs. I'm looking for resources for self employment, help navigating the housing assistance if there's any available, and any other assistance navigating the welfare system to help me in my situation (hence why this is a law and government question). No monetary help from friends/family either. I'm on my own to solve this one.
posted by thebotanyofsouls to Law & Government (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My main suggestion is to check out 211info.org (or better, actually call 211), because there are people there whose job it is to help you navigate Portland's social services.

But also. For housing assistance try
Impact NW Housing Assistance 503 988 6000
Join (has showers, laundromat vouchers, you can get mail there etc)
Home Forward which sometimes gives hotel vouchers and helps with housing placement

And for general help
Oregon State Finding Help in Tough Times (list of resources)
The Rose City Resource which should be available in hard copy at the Street Roots office
Oregon Helps which is an online screener to find state services you're eligible for

Also, I never knew this until I had a friend who worked at a church, but many churches have food (and sometimes money) available for non-church-members who come asking for help. So that could be helpful in a pinch.

I hope some of this is helpful.
posted by hungrytiger at 2:38 AM on April 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is a better link for Join, the org with the showers (and free acupuncture)
posted by hungrytiger at 2:43 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh my. It sounds like youre taking many good steps. Is a job at McDonalds/subway/pizza place etc possible? You seem eloquent and clear headed and if you are able to be clean and presentable you should have zero difficulty getting a job at those places using a friends mailing address. That would definitely net you a LOT more than $300-500 a month with the added bonus of free food (making about 1000-1300 a month is pretty straightforward there) Working places like this in my dark days was always my primary concern to ensure enough calories were coming in.

Please be careful
posted by chasles at 6:37 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Looks like you're doing most everything right in terms of assistance; keep in mind that especially in PDX government resources are stretched thin (which is dumb, but it's the reality); your fastest way out is to get some employment.

A temporary job at a fast food joint might work well for you, but grabbing one of those jobs is just as easy as getting a job at a coffee shop or a grocery store, and will probably net you better benefits.

Part-time baristas, even at average shops, can take $3-400/mo home just in tips. You usually get access to day old pastries and bagels and shit for free (this is long-term unhealthy, but short term pretty alright). The cafe our company operates has had several people working for us who were homeless. This is only a concern if you make it one; no one in the cafe world is going to give two shits that you don't have an address; I would just borrow an address from a friend, and have your mail get sent there. I'm surprised at how many folks don't know about it, but Poached is where most of the halfway decent food-job stuff lives in town.

Also, Grabbing a job at a grocery stores (both New Seasons and Green Zebra Grocery are hiring right now/in the near future) can net you some solid food-discounts, and plenty of money to make rent. They both have company minimum wages around the $14-15/hour mark. Both of these stores let their humans take free food home that's expired or scratch-n-dent, and I believe include medical insurance for even their part-timers.

Neither option is ideal for long-term happiness, but they both work in a pinch, and can get you enough cash to rent a room in a house. You wouldn't be the first (or hundredth) massage therapist that works a day-job as a barista or a grocer. Yeah, this city is insane right now, but you can do this in less than 6 months. You got this.

Do be careful out there though; there's been a not-so-insignificant uptick in violence against homeless folks.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:03 AM on April 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

You should also be eligible for free/subsidized cell service based on your Food Stamp eligibility. Here is some information about that program.
posted by goggie at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is my website: San Diego Homeless Survival Guide where I blog about earning money, getting fed, staying clean etc while homeless. A lot is San Diego specific, but a lot generalizes. The mefi wiki also has a page on Homeless Survival.

I am not ready to blog about it, but I am also looking into panning for gold and I have a free account here http://www.bid4assets.com/. Washington is one of the more active states on the site in terms of real estate. You need to read the fine print. You can bid as little as $1 for property there, but you actually need at least $601 to cover closing costs. So, no, you cannot literally get real estate for one dollar through that site, but you can potentially get it pretty darn cheap. You should assume that it will be a FIXER, at best.
posted by Michele in California at 11:53 AM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

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