SALEM, Ore. – College Housing Northwest’s (CHNW) student homelessness program, Affordable Rents for College Students (ARCS) announced today that it has received $500,000 of funding from the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) to provide one year of free rent in CHNW properties to 25 students who are experiencing homelessness and are pursuing education and employment goals to better their future.
This partnership between ARCS and ODHS will provide stable housing to 25 students as they grow, learn and strive to meet their full potential. In addition to housing, each student will receive case management services through New Avenues for Youth and Native American Youth Association (NAYA) that will support them and help them connect with other services they need to thrive and reach their full potential.
“Housing insecurity has made it terribly challenging to focus on school. It’s hard juggling school in addition to the regular struggles in life. When basic needs like housing become insecure it’s like juggling on a tight rope, if you lose your balance it all comes crashing down,” said Chelsea M., an ARCS student attending Portland Community College. “I learned about the ARCS program from Future Connect. FC helped me get connected and from there I had an interview with an ARCS housing coordinator. It was pretty easy and I moved in before fall term. Had it not been for CHNW I wouldn’t be in school anymore. They have really given me the support I needed with housing so that I could continue working towards becoming a social worker.”
This innovative housing partnership is possible because of a $9 million interagency transfer from the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS) to the ODHS, Self-Sufficiency Programs, Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program to support the housing needs of young people across Oregon.
Affordable housing opportunities for youth experiencing homelessness are very limited across Oregon. Often, youth are forced to compete with unhoused adults and families to receive housing vouchers. Housing voucher programs consistently have long wait lists and are difficult for youth to navigate. Youth experiencing homelessness also frequently encounter bias from landlords who may view them as less reliable than adults, which can further limit their access to housing.
“We all have an interest in a community in which young people have access to stable and safe housing so that they can pursue their life’s goals and reach their full potential,” said Jana McLellan, interim director of the ODHS, Self-Sufficiency Programs. “This partnership between ODHS and CHNW is a necessary step towards intentional youth-specific housing opportunities for those currently experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. It is our responsibility as a community to come together to support young people and provide housing opportunities. When we do this we will give them the stability and safety they need to learn and grow and help our community thrive. This collaboration with CHNW is testament to truly supporting a vital and frequently overlooked population and we hope others are inspired to find new and creative opportunities to help them.”
“Oftentimes when we think of people experiencing homelessness, college students do not come to mind,” said Mike Savara, interim chief programs officer for the Housing Stabilization Division at OHCS. “This failure to see these young people results in broken dreams and a lifelong battle to stay permanently housed. Directing resources to help create pathways that help young people out of homelessness will lead to increased educational achievement and improved health outcomes.”
“To have the State directly support young people experiencing homelessness this way is incredible,” said Pamela Blumenthal, Director of ARCS. “Student houselessness is at an all time high, not just in Portland, but around the country. ARCS was created to help students succeed and break down some of the barriers of entry (and completion) for folks who might not otherwise be able to attend college. It’s getting harder and harder for prospective students from strained socio-economic backgrounds to get a diploma. We all know it can be life changing and that is what we are focused on doing at ARCS, changing lives.”
About the Oregon Department of Human Services
The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity.
About Oregon Housing and Community Services
Oregon Housing and Community Services provides resources for Oregonians to reduce poverty and increase access to stable housing. Our intentional focus on both housing and community services allows us to serve Oregonians holistically across the housing continuum, including preventing and ending homelessness, assisting with utilities, providing housing stability support, financing multifamily affordable housing and encouraging homeownership.
About College Housing Northwest
CHNW is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose ARCS program partners with organizations like New Avenues for Youth, and the Native American Youth and Family Center, as well as colleges like Portland State University, Mt. Hood Community College and Portland Community College, to give students facing homelessness a chance to succeed.
CHNW has been helping students succeed for over 50 years. The nonprofit provides well-supported and affordable housing for post-secondary students in the city of Portland by creating and maintaining supportive communities that help students achieve their goals. Typical CHNW rents are 15-25% below market and the ARCS program further decreases those rents. Additionally, The ARCS program helps those students most in need through eviction prevention, low barriers to entry, and a highly supportive environment focused on supporting student success.
About Affordable Rents for College Students
College Housing Northwest (CHNW) created Affordable Rents for College Students (ARCS) in 2020 to provide subsidized housing to students most at risk. More than 50% of college students report struggling with housing insecurity. By lowering one of the most significant barriers to housing security—rental expenses and upfront housing costs—ARCS, by collaborating with local colleges and nonprofits, secures housing for those whom our society has neglected to support.