View the entire MSI presentation video

On March 21, leaders from Multnomah County Dept. of County Human Services and guests presented to the County Board of Commissioners the Multnomah Stability Initiative (MSI). Below are some selections from the presentation and additional resources. MSI is a referral-only program. People interested in participating....

Here's what you need to know: 

1. Connections build possibility

Connection builds empathy and possibility for us all, but especially for families struggling to make ends meet. 

Unfortunately many of our modern systems can be isolating and our communities face deep inequities.

For instance, income poverty rates in the county are 223.7% worse for people of color (Assets and Opportunity Profile: Portland) and according to the Portland Housing Bureau "State of Housing in Portland Report 2016" there are no neighborhoods in Portland where the average Latino, Black, Native American, and single-mother households, can afford to rent.

So we’re re-examining how we do out work, in part through the Multnomah Stability Initiative (MSI).

MSI is built on a foundation of extremely powerful connections. Stronger connections between DCHS staff and participants, between organizations and between participants and their own life goals. 

Here are MSI's key goals: 

  • Providing flexible services for families facing economic challenges can achieve stability
  • Getting families access the existing benefits
  • Focusing on economic stability, income creation and skill building
  • Assisting families in long term housing stability
  • Provide assistance in connection to natural supports like community activities, support groups and participation in school activities
  • Leveraging community resources including warm hand-offs to other programs

2. Here's how MSI is different than other solutions 

DCHS and a range of partner organizations including: WorkSource, Home forward, schools, Human Solutions, Impact, SEI, NAYA, LAt Network, El Programa, IRCO, DHS Self-Sufficiency Benefits Assistance came together to ask questions and make plans. The sum of those efforts now is embodied in the Multnomah Stability Initiative. MSI  break down walls and opens connections that are the foundation of what has always made people successful. 

Those investments lead to the work in the community looking differently than it has before. It takes skills and doing things a little differently on three levels:

1) We break down walls between caseworker and clients. 

In the former way of doing things a caseworker would dictate to families what they needed. It was about the caseworkers giving someone a plan and a resource. Now we recognize the participant as the expert in their own life. It instills hope and offers choice. The family identifies their interests, strengths and goals which are matched with available resources. There’s genuine connection. 

2) We break down walls between staff that exist to support participants. 

The former way of doing things we funded services and they were more disjointed. Now we’re flexible and help providers and non-traditional settings connect with one another

3) We break down walls in how we look at a family's goals. 

In the former system providers would help with one issue like housing or food that was often for one point in time. But MSI recognizes that, like all of us, our families have multidimensional, complex goals that shift based on life circumstances. So we look at short and long-term supports across 6 domains.

3. Here's what an MSI family experiences

Step 1: A family is referred to MSI either from a SUN Community School, an MSI agency, or through the Mobile Housing team 

Step 2: The family meets with a provider and are matched with an Assertive Engagement Specialist (i.e. case manager) 

Step 3: The Specialist and family get to know each other and discuss what’s going on in the family's life. 

Step 4: Next they decide which areas to focus on and set goals for the future.

Step 5: The family is matched with programs via a menu of services that help move toward that goal (eg: rent assistance, job training, school, or savings) 

Step 6: The family reaches their goals! Then they might loop back and work on other goals if they wish. 

You can view the video of the public testimony, scroll to the 27:44 mark to hear an SEI Specialist, Margot Woods, describe how this work impacts families. 

4. MSI works with other public and private programs

Across the main focus areas of health, income, education, thriving children, social ties and housing, MSI leverages County, State, Federal and nonprofit programs to help families reach their goals. 

5. The MSI pilot indicates it works!

Participant monthly income increased 134%
Before MSI 22% of participants were employed, often with low wage jobs. After MSI 52% of participants were employed, often with higher paying jobs.
96% of families remain in stable homes 6 months after MSI