Portfolio Partner Profile
Central City Concern
Central City Concern (CCC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency serving single adults and families in the Portland metro area who are impacted by homelessness, poverty, and addiction. Founded in 1979, the agency has developed a comprehensive continuum of affordable housing options integrated with direct social services including healthcare, recovery, and employment. Central City Concern's innovative strategies for supporting personal and community transformation include direct access to housing, integrated healthcare services for people who are often alienated from mainstream systems, the development of peer relationships to nurture and support recovery, and attainment of income through employment or accessing benefits.
CCC maintains approximately 2,136 units in 27 properties for low income individuals and families. In addition to housing nearly 3,798 individuals, CCC also provides many programs to help community members struggling with illness, addiction and homelessness. CCC operates 12 health center sites, which served almost 9,212 patients in 2019. As people recover, CCC also provides several programs that help individuals to find jobs. 1,275 people worked with CCC’s Employment Specialists in 2019. As CCC moves into their fifth decade, they continue to invest their resources, reserves, and hearts into their mission.
Featured Impact Story
Turning her life around
Charlette was homeless and addicted to heroin for six years — living in cars, sleeping in bus stops, or just walking around all night. Then, six friends died of overdoses in one week. That was when she knew she had to turn her life around. She was one of the first people to walk into CCC’s new Blackburn Center. Within a single day, Charlette:
- Saw a primary care provider, who treated her for her chronic thyroid condition
- Saw a psychiatric nurse practitioner, who started her on buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone) for acute opioid withdrawal
- Immediately filled her buprenorphine prescription via the Blackburn Pharmacy
Over the next few weeks, Charlette saw a drug counselor and became active in groups and one-on-one counseling. She also became one the first residents of Blackburn’s alcohol- and drug-free transitional housing. “Having my housing and health care together under in one building is a big thing!” Charlette says. “I can just go right downstairs and get my Suboxone at the pharmacy, or go to a group meeting, without ever leaving the building. That’s huge.”
Within less than six months, Charlette graduated from her outpatient program and, guided by Blackburn’s on-site employment specialist, began training as an on-call employee in CCC buildings. Clearly, the full slate of services available at Blackburn Center is working well for Charlette. She says, “I’m paying back everything that CCC has given me by being a success. That’s exactly what I want to be.”
Peer support and encouragement
Since 2015, CCC’s Puentes program has welcomed Spanish-speakers into a culturally responsive community where things like language, country of origin and documentation status are not barriers to a life in recovery. Many people who complete treatment stay close to Puentes through El Senado, an advisory group of former clients who provide peer support and encouragement to newer clients.
Jose is an El Senado member who found a community in Puentes after decades of struggling with addiction and homelessness. Jose immigrated to the US from Nicaragua seeking political asylum. Despite having legal documentation, his life was turned upside down by the immigration and criminal justice systems. Jose finally took back control of his life by starting treatment at Hooper and Puentes, living in the Richard Harris building, and finding employment through the Employment Access Center. Today, Jose gives back as a member of El Senado and is in school to become a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. “To see someone I could relate to, who spoke the same language, gave me hope. Giving back and making a positive impact in the Latino community gives me purpose.”
Inspiring a Clean Start
Through partnerships with the City of Portland, Portland Business Alliance and others, our CCC Clean Start program helps keep neighborhoods clean by clearing away trash and removing graffiti. It’s also a mentored six-month work experience that gives formerly homeless people the opportunity to work, grow and gain crucial experience and confidence to pursue employment opportunities.
After completing inpatient treatment at the Native American Rehabilitation Association, David didn’t feel ready to live on his own yet. He opted to join CCC’s “8x8” recovery program in the Richard Harris building and work for Downtown Clean & Safe in order to stay on track in his recovery and give back to the community. He now lives in permanent housing at the Richard Harris and is working toward moving up the ranks in Clean Start. “Visiting homeless camps to take trash kind of reminds me of where I’d be if I didn’t get clean. I was an addict and I hope I inspire others to think, ‘I can do this.’”