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Community Pulls Together to Help Homless Families March 27, 2011

Posted by chezanni in Community.
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I know Kate Lore and have seen her passion. There is no obstacle she won’t overcome to meet her goals. A true lightworker in action.

by Erin Codazzi

Reverend Kate Lore remembers what it was like to be a young child, confused about not having a permanent place to call home. Thanks to the kindness of a schoolteacher and some neighbors, Lore, her mother and her siblings were given a place to live until they could get back on their feet. Today, Lore, social justice minister at the First Unitarian Church, is paying the favor forward. She is one of the many forces behind Thirteen Salmon Family Center—the first day shelter for families on the west side of town.

Nationally, families make up the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. In Multnomah County, more than 800 families—including 1,276 children—are homeless on any night.* As the economy continues to falter, it’s likely these numbers will climb.

While overnight shelters for families are sparse, daytime services are even bleaker. “Many families end up biding their time at libraries or in hospital waiting rooms, hanging around and trying to look invisible until the night shelters open,” explains Lore. “Even then, they may be hesitant to seek assistance because they may be split up by gender.” Single fathers with daughters, for example, have a tough time finding resources that allow them to stay together.

At Thirteen Salmon, this isn’t an issue. When I visited the center, I saw a father napping with a toddler in the quiet room. Down the colorful hall, in the active room, a sister offered her brother a freshly baked imaginary cookie. She offered me one too, along with a spot of tea.

“Our goal here is to usher these families through this transition in their lives with compassion and kindness,” says Lore. She cites studies showing that if homeless families can get off the streets and into more permanent housing within six months, they will be more likely to stay off the streets and have a real shot at recovery. Thirteen Salmon tries to help families settle into long-term housing in less time: three weeks, when possible. “We welcome them here as guests,” continues Lore.

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