Path Home, a non-profit organization based in Portland, has been providing emergency shelter and meals to families experiencing homelessness for years. In addition to their shelter program, they launched a Homelessness Prevention Program five years ago to help families on the brink of losing their homes. The program pays back rent and past due utilities in emergency situations to keep families in their homes and prevent homelessness.
The prevention program focuses on catching people at the very beginning of a potential crisis, before they have become involved with the social services system. By doing so, they can provide a one-time intervention that will be sufficient to get families on track to being self-sufficient, preventing the stress and trauma of homelessness. Families must have at least one child in the household to qualify for the program.
The application process is quick and straightforward. Once families qualify, the prevention specialist, Samuel Freni-Rothschild, will contact their landlord. If the family is in arrears from the previous month, he’ll pay the bill or hammer out a payment plan that’s both agreeable to the landlord and reasonable for the family. Sometimes he will provide some light-touch case management: help with budgeting, connecting the family to other resources, like food pantries or childcare, that they don’t know how to look for.
The program has been successful in keeping families in their homes. In 2022, the program helped keep 93 families in their homes, serving a total of 155 kids and 140 adults. The average spent per family was $3,180, which is a fraction of what is spent on rehousing and sheltering homeless individuals.
According to Brandi Tuck, Path Home’s executive director, rehousing people who have been homeless can cost as much as $50,000 in rent assistance over the course of a few years. Prevention is not only more effective but is also a better investment.
The prevention program is currently funded by grants and individual donations. However, Path Home has reached a point where they could use a larger injection of funds. Freni-Rothschild is the sole staffer focused on prevention, and he can only do so much. Last month, he picked up 10 new families in the county where 800 were evicted, and the ratios he’s working with are a little daunting.
Path Home also runs other programs, including a basic guaranteed income pilot with six families receiving $575 a month for two years. The program has been successful in helping families become more stable and self-sufficient.
It is an essential part of Path Home's work to address homelessness in Portland. With additional funding, they can expand the program and help even more families stay in their homes and avoid the trauma of homelessness.
Path Home's Homelessness Prevention Program aligns with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 1, which aims to end poverty in all its forms and dimensions. The prevention program helps families avoid homelessness, which is one of the most extreme forms of poverty, and keeps them on track to being self-sufficient.
Moreover, the program's focus on early intervention and prevention aligns with the vision of the global society, which strives to create a world where everyone has access to basic needs such as shelter, food, and water. By keeping families in their homes, Path Home's prevention program helps create stable and sustainable communities.
The program's success in providing cost-effective solutions to homelessness aligns with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. By preventing homelessness and promoting self-sufficiency, Path Home contributes to building resilient communities that can thrive in the long run.
Path Home's Homelessness Prevention Program exemplifies the importance of early intervention and prevention in addressing homelessness and poverty, while aligning with the vision of the global society to create sustainable and inclusive communities.