PORTLAND — Portland Rescue Mission is responding to increased homelessness with an expanded program to fast-track homeless men toward permanent employment and housing.
As of last month up to 36 men in the mission’s Link program have been moved into the renovated third floor of the Burnside Shelter at 111 W. Burnside St.
“Many people in the community are passionate about ending homelessness in Portland,” said Eric Bauer, the mission’s executive director. “The expansion of our Link program helps transition homeless men toward independent housing and jobs in just three to six months.”
Renovations at the mission’s downtown Burnside Shelter have created space for 36 beds for the Link program, a newer initiative that has been remarkably successful. Link participants have access to all services offered through the mission, including meals, showers, mail service, and social service agency referrals.
In exchange for these services, Link men work several hours a week alongside mission staff to run facility and ministry operations at the Burnside Shelter. All of the mission’s services are provided free of charge, thanks to the compassionate support of the community.
“Before I became a member of the Link program, I was on the streets,” said one client, Aubrey. “(In the program,) I didn’t feel judged or anything. Everyone was so friendly. I felt human again. Now, I get to give that feeling back to other people in need.”
More than 200 men have joined Link since its inception in January 2012, and more than 100 men successfully transitioned into housing and employment. Around 40 men are typically on a waiting list to join the program.
Previously, Link participants were housed in the mission’s emergency shelter on the lower level of the building. Now, all 58 beds there will be available for emergency shelter for homeless men. In extreme winter weather, an additional 112 mats are available for homeless men.