May 12, 2010

Housing team to the rescue

Hundreds have been moved out or kept out of local shelters as a new program provides a strike force to get them into a home.

By John Richardson
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Ivelisse Castro has moved from a homeless shelter into an apartment in Portland with the help of caseworkers and federal funding. Working six days a week, she saved money to buy one of her most cherished possessions in the apartment – the bed she’s sitting on.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Although a small portion of the city's chronically homeless will not qualify for the re-housing program because of severe mental illness or addictions to drugs or alcohol, a large number don't need to be in the shelters, Bradley said. "With the right kind of help, they can really get housed and stay housed," he said.

Those who are getting help include families as well as individuals. In March, for example, the program helped provide homes for 37 households with a total of 50 people.

Castro, who is 27 and single, was a prime candidate for the program.

She works full time as a housekeeper in a hotel downtown. But her income -- below $10 an hour -- couldn't cover the cost of rent, and she has no family to turn to for help, she said.

"Not a lot of people who are homeless have the fall-back people to help them," she said.

Sleeping on a folding cot each night, she couldn't even dream of saving up enough for an apartment, she said. "I was really just saving for a bed, to be honest," Castro said.

The program helped her get into an apartment while waiting to qualify for a rent subsidy. She no longer has to fight for a shower to get to work on time, she said.

Castro's new third-floor apartment is an $825-a-month, one-bedroom unit with wood floors and a built-in bookcase to hold her diploma from Traip Academy and her collection of Precious Moments figures.

And her bedroom is just the right size for the queen-size bed she bought secondhand from her boss.

"It's beautiful," she said.


Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:


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