We are the youth in our communities that will wake up early, stay late and push through to find a way to make things better for the things that matter. We are a generation that lives for now AND for our future.
We know that our generation has the capacity to make a significant positive impact on the social challenges we face. We are aware that our success is connected to how we engage with our elected officials, community leaders and the adults in our lives, who can support the projects and initiatives we believe can open the door to progress to bring about lasting change.
The Youth Igniting Change Alliance is currently focusing our social justice philanthropy efforts on Portland’s homeless crisis, where the City of Bridges provides shelter for the most needy in our community.
why youth igniting change
As an alliance of youth changemakers, we chose to collaborate and create using circle leadership practices. We recognize the leader in each young person within our organization and empower each other to bring forth our very best.
Our aim is to speak, act, and live kindness and compassion and
our mission statement
We are an alliance of youth activists dedicated to advancing the conversation and advocating
for change for the marginalized and underserved individuals and families in our communities.
Why are we advocating for the homeless
in our communities?
HOW DID PORTLAND’S HOMELESSNESS SITUATION EVOLVE?
Homelessness in Portland has been around for about a century. It started in the early 1950’s when the cheap housing district, known as “Old Town” was demolished for the development of new and modern buildings.
Old Town was home to many transient laborers, with few people sleeping on the streets. What had once been flourishing neighborhoods became a new industrialized city scape, offering no affordable housing options for its former residents.
Through this era of Portland’s growth in development, many lost their homes, with very few social programs to assist them. The kind of public aid that existed in other US cities, which could have minimized the growth of Portland’s homeless community, wouldn’t be established for years later.
Portland’s growing homeless challenge was made worse and more complex because of the Deinstitutionalisation. Starting in the 1970’s, institutions began releasing mentally ill individuals, with nowhere to go, leaving them with very few choices, but to live on the streets.
This new social problem added to the sub-populations who were detached from the labor market and not able to provide safe and sustainable housing for themselves.
As Portland continued to industrialize, the cost of housing increased, resulting in few possibilities and resources for Portland’s growing homeless population.
Portland’s Homeless Crisis
did you know?
The last official Portland Metro area report and analysis recorded our city’s homeless at 3,801 people by HUD’s definition.
Point in Time Count of Homelessness was prepared by Kristina Smock, Ph.D of Kristina Smock Consulting for the City of Portland, the City of Gresham, Multnomah County and the Coordinating Board of A Home for Everyone; a community-wide collaboration to house homeless Multnomah County residents.
Among the almost 4000 “officially” homeless people in Portland metro area:
- 41% were people of color
- 17% were in families with children (including 369 children)
- 31% were women
- 7% were youth ages 24 and younger
- 12% were veterans
- 57% had disabling conditions
- 46% were chronically homeless
To understand our homeless crisis, we must look beyond just HUD’s definition and at the various levels homelessness.
On the night of January 28, 2015, there were:
- 1,887 unsheltered homeless people in Multnomah County
- 3,801 that met HUD’s broader definition of homelessness that includes emergency shelter and transitional housing
- An estimated 16,344 if who were doubled up that night for economic reasons
Portland tends to attract homeless because:
- We have milder weather than that in the midwest and east coast regions
- Portlanders are generous -- our community spends millions of dollars -- from tax dollars and private donations each year to help support and work towards our homeless crisis
- New vagrancy laws brought by our public officials are often blocked by the courts
- The Portland Police Force and local residents are more tolerant in letting the homeless sleep in the parks, on sidewalks and under bridges
- The homeless in Portland are visible enough that non-profit relief efforts have and continue to create innovative ideas which other US cities have adopted.
Our three fastest growing homeless populations are:
- African-American Adults
- Women -- and of greater concern is that as soon as women are cast onto the streets, they become targets for domestic violence.
- People older than 55. Our homeless are aging and they are having a harder time getting off the streets and finding safe and sustainable living solutions.
While other US Cities have seen success by implementing “Housing First”, part of a 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, which provides homeless individuals and families rent free apartments while they participate in programs to assist them in creating sustainable, permanent living situations -- Portland has not been able to maintain the consistent sustainable solution to solving our city’s homeless and affordable housing crisis.
Photo Credit, OregonLive.com
Youth Igniting Change Initiatives
How we’re supporting and caring for our city’s homeless
Youth Igniting Change Alliance members are dedicated to dispelling the myths about how people end up and remain living on our city’s streets and in our shelters. Our Youth Leaders will visit Portland area Middle and High Schools to share relevant and appropriate information about:
- Portland’s homeless history
- The current conditions our homeless are facing
- Political initiatives that are being pursued to significantly reduce our homeless population
- Community service programs to care for the individuals and families who are living on the street’s in our city
- Suggestions about ways to participate and contribute to the people in our city that need our care and assistance
One of Youth in Action’s values is that we’re better together and that by working and creating together, we can make a significant positive impact.
Youth Igniting Change Alliance events are a place where big-hearted and innovative young people can connect with other changemakers — to amplify their voice, advance their activism and share their community services experiences with their peers.
We offer a supportive youth community that will create activism, service and giving events that will be more like #GivingForwardParties.
Some of Youth Igniting Change’s ongoing events include:
Homeless Care Bag Assembly Volunteer-Socials
Here’s how it goes … you let us know how you’re already working to or wanting to make a positive difference in your community and #BAM, just like that, your name gets added to our #GivingForwardParty invite list.
Your entry ticket to our monthly events is a box or bag of an item from our Homeless Care Bag Items list that the men and women living on Portland’s streets most need.
Our ‘Socials’ include music, food and an opportunity to connect other young people who care about making a difference in their community. You’ll leave our Volunteer-Social with several care bags to keep in your car or backpack, to have handy to hand out when you see someone on the street who needs a dose of compassion or a little extra care.
Youth Igniting Change Partnership Events
Portland is a generous community, including many organizations that are making a difference by offering specific and specialized care for our community’s homeless. As Youth Leaders in our community, we provide support to our city’s most valuable homelessness advocacy and care organizations, by partnering with them to support their ongoing programs and special initiatives.
Homeless Site and Camp Clean-up Events
We coordinate and support events in our city to clean up and care for the areas where our homeless live and congregate. We deliver “sharps containers” and garbage bags, also taking away garbage and unwanted and discarded supplies.
Pancake Breakfast + Sack-Meal Take-away
Come practice your pancake flipping skills, serve a warm breakfast and connect with our city’s homeless community. Take a minute or 10 to talk with the men, women, children and elderly that are living on our city streets or in our shelters. You’ll be so happy you did. And then send them on their way with some kind words and their next meal.
If you want to experience the real value and gift of community, seek out opportunities and ways that you can be with people in your city that you may think you have very little in common with.
Some of the ways that we do this through Youth Igniting Change is by:
- Handing out personal care packages
- Delivering food donations
- Collecting and distribute shelter camp supplies
- Participating in severe weather collection drives and delivery events
*The Youth Igniting Change Circle of Advisors approves all Alliance Initiatives and ensures that events are chaperoned and supervised.
Youth igniting change
partners in good
Youth Igniting Change is proud to be aligned with Advocacy5, a local non-profit organization and to join the other grassroots community organizations and coalition of helpers and change makers, providing comprehensive care to those living on the Portland streets.