Author:Mendenhall, Andrew


someone arrives at Central City Concern (CCC), a nonprofit agency providing comprehensive solutions to end homelessness and support community transformation, one thing is absolutely clear: housing is a critical component to a successful recovery by helping create the living conditions that are essential for any of us to lead healthy and stable lives. The magic combination is bringing together those housing supports with opportunities to grow employment skills. In a 2017 evaluation by Worksystems (Multnomah and Washington County, City of Portland) comparing employment services combined with housing assistance to those with only employment services, findings were clear that the combination is superior. CCC participants

* were 38 percent more likely to complete the employment training program

* were 67 percent more likely to obtain career track employment

* experienced twice the amount of income gain

CCC has several social enterprises that provide a variety of employment training opportunities. Clean Start is a program that gives workers an opportunity to hone maintenance skills and learn to work with others while keeping Portland's streets walkable and free from trash. Trainees help people living outside keep their areas clean, while connecting with them and serving as role models for life after homelessness. Clean Start also operates a storage facility where people can safely stow their belongings during the day, allowing them to work or look for employment.

Central City Coffee is a dynamic program for single parents living in CCC family housing who receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits. Participants, almost entirely women, learn all aspects of the retail coffee business--from sourcing, packaging, marketing, sales, and office support. By the end of the training period, participants have gained enough transferable skills to find meaningful employment that will help them support a family. CCC Staffing trains people to be front-line staff for affordable housing communities with property management and maintenance skills.

Central City Bed is a retail operation that supplies bedbug-proof beds to camps and facilities across the county. All of the social enterprises include support from CCC's Employment Access Center (EAC) employment specialists who assist clients with resume building, interviewing skills, and career mapping. CCC has also built a large network of private and public employers who trust them...

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