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Donate to end homelessness

Our Opinion

The issue of homelessness in Portland is ever more apparent in this recessionary economy. We see stark evidence in the form of more individuals sleeping on sidewalks, under bridges or in business doorways - or in the increasing number of people packing into shelters.

The crisis proportion of this problem even prompted City Commissioner Nick Fish and Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury to ask local churches to open their buildings to the homeless - a call that we support. But the best strategies for reducing homelessness involve the actions that can be taken before an individual or family is pushed onto the streets.

Along these lines, we have a very specific - and immediate - recommendation for how Portlanders can help fight the underlying causes of homelessness: They should donate to the United Way's Community Relief Fund.

The United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and partners - including the Oregon Food Bank and Community Action Programs - established this relief fund for the exact purpose of assisting people in crisis. Among other things, it provides people with rent, mortgage, utility and food assistance. Such assistance helps people avoid eviction from their homes in the first place and ensures that they have adequate nutrition and heat while they are there.

Fully 100 percent of what is contributed to the Community Relief Fund goes directly to agencies and programs on the front lines of helping those in need. Although the Community Relief Fund isn't specifically a program for the homeless, it does serve to attack homelessness at the preventive stage. And it takes a comprehensive approach - addressing a range of needs, rather than a singular one.

To learn more, and to donate, visit www.unitedway-pdx.org and click on the graphic labeled 'Community Relief Fund.'