Homelessness PDX Connection Spring 2019
Homelessness PDX Connection Spring 2019
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Homelessness PDX Connection          Spring 2019

Welcome from Director Zapata 

Last year, nine faculty members from across PSU came together to form a community-driven research center on homelessness. Twenty more faculty and seven deans lent their names in support of this new research center.  
Since the center’s launch, we have started several research projects, partnered with community stakeholders, and developed our five core initiative areas: homelessness at PSU, supporting unsheltered community members, healthcare, changing the narrative, and policy and governance. 
In this issue, you will learn more about HRAC’s accomplishments including the launch of the Summer Research Institute, hygiene research, and the growth of sleeping pod villages as transitional shelters. In addition, I have been working with the PSU Regional Research Institute on a study that could reduce emergency room visits and police encounters for houseless community members.
This summer we will also announce the results of an HRAC and PSU Northwest Economic Research Center study on cost estimates to address and prevent homelessness as well as revenue-raising mechanisms to meet these costs, and governance options across the tri-county area. We hope this report will give the public a better sense of the scale of the challenges and the solutions. 
Thank you for your support, and a special thanks to those who met with us and gave us guidance. We look forward to meeting community partners to identify projects and ways to engage in our work.

Village model gains momentum in Portland

Sleeping pod villages are gaining ground thanks to a network of community partners and the work of Todd Ferry, Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative's co-founder and senior research associate and faculty fellow at Center for Public Interest Design at PSU School of Architecture. 
He is the local designer behind a new wave of villages for people experiencing homelessness. Ferry and his students helped design and build the original Kenton Women's Village, which was the first city-sponsored village in Portland. The village found a permanent home and expanded to 20 sleeping pods for women in April as a result of a community-wide effort that included businesses, nonprofits, and local governments working together. 
News crews captured the unveiling of the new site, and visitors toured the pods during Design Week Portland. News coverage included an article in the Oregonian and stories in about a half dozen other publications from PSU student newspaper Vanguard to Archinect, an online publication for progressive design.
Ferry’s students have also designed the site plans and pods for the latest village, Agape Village, which will open its doors next month to people experiencing homelessness. 
It’s the third village with ties to Portland State University. Ferry and his students helped create Clackamas County Veterans Village last fall, which currently serves 15 residents with plans to serve up to 30 residents at a time.
“It’s not the silver bullet solution to homelessness, but it is filling a critical need," Ferry said about the sleeping pod village model. "What it is proving extremely good at is providing a safe and dignified place to heal and build community in preparation for successful transition to permanent housing."

Research at women's village

Lisa Hawash, co-founder and associate professor of practice in the School of Social Work, is getting back to her research roots by interviewing women who have experienced homelessness.
“I feel really grateful to be a part of this work,” she said.
The study will focus on 12 current and former residents of Kenton Women’s Village, a village of sleeping pods, to help the center better understand their experience of the bathrooms, showers, and kitchen space.
“This information will provide a crucial framework for recommendations on the design and operations of village facilities in the future,” she said.
Despite the popularity of villages, Hawash is not aware of any studies that seek feedback from village users on how well the facilities meet health, hygiene, and safety needs. As municipalities and nonprofits invest in villages, she said, it is critical to understand best practices from the perspective of those who have lived there.
For example, villages consist of vulnerable populations often dealing with issues that make sharing spaces difficult, such as PTSD, food insecurity, and health problems. How might design take those factors into consideration when building bathrooms, showers, and kitchen spaces?
Hawash hopes to conduct a large-scale study for the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative that examines these issues with a deeper look at how lack of access can lead to criminalization of those experiencing homelessness.

We're fans of Goldrick-Rab

Scholar-activist Sara Goldrick-Rab encouraged Portland State University to address the #RealCollege struggles of food and housing insecurity during her recent talk on campus.
About 44 percent of university students around the country are food insecure, 48 percent are housing insecure and 14 percent experience homelessness, according to College and University Basic Needs Insecurity: A National #RealCollege Survey Report produced by The Hope Center.
“We can and must do better,” Goldrick-Rab said. “Commit to a culture of caring that goes beyond charity. Change systems, policies, and practices. Go beyond a single program.”
Organizers encouraged participants to post sticky notes to start the community conversation: “All these people in the room- how can we connect and move forward together,” said one. “Donate your extra meal plan points to fund,” said another. “More flexible student housing,” said a third.
Thank you to the PSU Office of Student Success and the Office of Academic Innovation for starting this conversation on campus. If you missed it, you can watch the full talk online.

Summer Research Institute launches in June

Ten students will join Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative this summer as part of our first Summer Research Institute.
Students will review cutting-edge research, examine research methods for addressing homelessness, and assist with project planning and data collection. Working with students is one of the best parts of the job, said Research Director Greg Townley, because they bring new knowledge and insights, and summer is a good time to collaborate.
“Summer provides more time for creativity and reflection, and we thought it would be the perfect time to engage graduate students more actively in the center's work,” Townley said.
Students will help plan projects including the center’s upcoming study of rates of homelessness and housing insecurity among students and staff at PSU. They will also help interview service providers and people experiencing homelessness, to help inform the center's current and future research.
“This summer I look forward to working on research that will change the narrative around houselessness,” said Lauren Everett, a graduate student in Urban Studies at PSU.
Everett and her fellow student researchers will not only earn experience but a summer paycheck thanks to a generous philanthropic gift from Tim and Mary Boyle, which helped create the summer institute.
“The lessons students learn, and the experiences they have in the Summer Research Institute," Townley said, "will set them up to be among the next generation of thinkers to help solve homelessness.”

Dr. Margot Kushel presents Homelessness, Health & Aging

Homelessness impacts health-care outcomes across the board but particularly in vulnerable populations such as older adults.
Dr. Margot Kushel, MD, director of University of California San Francisco Center for Vulnerable Populations, will discuss her research on “Homelessness, Health & Aging,” 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 30.
The free seminar will be held at Robertson Life Sciences Building Room 2S060, 2730 Southwest Moody Ave. Register online.

PDX community speaks up on homelessness

We listened to community voices at our Homelessness Research Pop-Up Booth on campus this month. What we heard was amazing. If you want to help change the narrative on homelessness, share your message at sknow2@pdx.edu.
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