A need was recognized: the Portland region’s homeless crisis demanded our attention. Lives were – and remain – on the line. What was initially a result of an affordability crisis and personal circumstances has now been grossly expanded as a result of coronavirus and its long terms economic impacts. And yet, what remains the same is the people disproportionately impacted: children and families, people of color, veterans, women escaping domestic violence, people from the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with chronic health conditions.
HereTogether began as a coalition of service providers, business leaders, elected officials, leaders from communities of color and faith, and community advocates who all believe homelessness in the Portland metro area is not an unsolvable problem. We organized a region-wide community who voted to pass a region-wide measure to effectively solve homelessness; a response that targets the roots of the problem, and that, for the first time, matches the scale and scope of the response to the crisis.
Now, we continue to engage our communities to ensure the public will is being appropriately valued during the implementation of this measure. As a region, we came together to enact our values in supporting our neighbors experiencing homelessness. That remains what HereTogether is all about.
Equity is an integral component of HereTogether’s mission and vital to fostering resilient
communities, economies, and housing solutions. Diversity, equity and inclusion are all
essential elements to creating a thriving community that benefits all of its members.
The work of HereTogether acknowledges and must address the historic and systemic
oppression against members of society based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation
and other identities. This means intentionally driving more resources to those who have
not had equitable access in the past. It also means embedding equity, diversity, and
inclusion into every facet of HereTogether’s work to help solve the housing continuum,
homelessness and permanent supportive housing issues facing our region.
This work should challenge each of us to improve our understanding of equity as a
commitment and living practice. All board, staff and volunteers who are working on this
project will adopt an equity lens in everything they do – at the policy, operations, hiring,
spending, programmatic, and relational levels. The goal is to create a shared
understanding of equity from this statement and during conversations, and hold
ourselves accountable to all disenfranchised communities, with a clear focus on
communities of color. HereTogether will create a culture of inclusion both internally and
when engaging externally with the stakeholders and the community.
To accomplish this, HereTogether will:
● Put equity at the center of its work
● Acknowledge the disproportionate impact of historical policies and decisions
● Challenge the status quo that created current systemic inequities
● Collaborate with other institutions and communities with humility
● Remember that place matters when discussing housing and homelessness
● Bring diverse voices to this work and create a culture of inclusion
● Support data driven solutions as a force for good
● Operate with urgency and accountability
● Be open to critical feedback and willing to adjust
Angela Martin, Executive Director
Cole Merkel, Deputy Director, Outreach and Engagement
Our community has come together to fund proven solutions to homelessness.