Chair Kafoury kicks off first meeting on new 2014 effort to end homelessness

August 6, 2014

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury kicked off the first meeting Monday of a new and comprehensive effort to end homelessness locally by stressing the need for the entire community to work together to achieve this essential goal.

“We all here know that there is so much more that we need to do,” Chair Kafoury said during the first official meeting Aug. 6 of the “A Home for Everyone” Coordinating Committee . “And we can’t do it alone.”

The county chair has made ending homelessness her top priority and helped form the board of staff and community members. Multnomah County is working in partnership with the cities of Portland and Gresham as well as Home Forward and Meyer Memorial Trust. The new board is comprised of government, non-profit and community representatives involved in homeless issues who will implement a plan to ensure everyone has a safe, stable place to call home.

“I want us to do a better job of coordinating and consolidating our efforts so that we can work together to end homelessness,” Chair Kafoury told the coordinating group.

“The expertise and folks that we need to end homelessness are right here in this room,” she said. “We are not going to be one of those committees that just writes a report and puts it on the shelf…we are going to get something done and we are going to make real change in our community.”

In the Aug, 6 meeting, the board discussed the inclusion of a public forum into future meetings, adopted the charter, designated a management system to collect data and authorized registration to apply for funding.  

Sally Erickson, a program manager with the City of Portland Housing Bureau, addressed some of the pitfalls of a previous 10-year plan—such as not focusing enough on survival and emergency services and individual benefits. And she spoke of what the new plan holds for the future.

“We want to focus our resources on the things that we know work,” Erickson said. “More than 2,000 people will be sleeping out on our streets tonight. We need to do better and that’s why we’re here.”

The principles of the new plan are to prioritize investments for the most vulnerable—such as people with disabilities, young people and unaccompanied children— promote racial and ethnic justice, use data-supported assessment and accountability, strengthen system capacity and increase leveraging opportunities, and engage and involve the community.

Alexa Mason, a public relations specialist for the Portland Rescue Mission, also serves as one of the board’s interim co-chairs. She said the difference between the new plan and the past is that its weaknesses and the needed changes have been identified.

Mason said this mindset, along with a strong leader like Chair Kafoury who is committed to improvement is just what the group needs to succeed.

“That’s the big thing: recognizing where there’s been error, owning that mistake,” Mason said, “and moving forward with that background.”

Meetings will be on the first Wednesday of each month from 3 pm to 5 pm. The site of the meetings remains to be determined. For more information, contact