Homelessness is tragic and traumatic – most especially for youth. Outside In helps!

Housing is the first step to achieving independence for youth experiencing homelessness 

Having safe, stable housing is so important – especially for young people. Outside In is proud of our work providing housing to youth experiencing homelessness across the Portland metro region. Together with our partners in the Homeless Youth Continuum, Native American Youth and Family Center, New Avenues for Youth, and Janus Youth Programs, we provide services to over 1,000 youth every year. Outside In offers housing both onsite, via our Transitional Living Program, as well as community-based housing throughout the metro region. 

Let’s learn more! 

Hundreds of young people are experiencing homelessness in Portland

Homelessness is tragic and traumatic, and perhaps most especially so for youth. Every night, hundreds of young people across our region go to sleep without the safety, stability, and support of a family or home. Further, many youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness have suffered significant trauma both before and after becoming homeless. 

Why do youth experience homelessness? 

There are many reasons why a young person might arrive at Outside In without a safe, stable place to stay. These reasons include family instability and trauma, poverty, a young person’s LGBTQIA+ identity – including transgender youth, mental health issues, substance use, and transitioning out of foster care or corrections institutions. One of the most common reasons youth arrive at Outside In’s door is that they have not been supported in their home or community after sharing their LGBTQIA+ identity with their parents and family members. 

Outside In’s Transitional Living Program 

Outside In’s Transitional Living Program provides a nurturing environment that offers stability, consistency, and safety for youth who are not ready to live independently.  We have 28 housing units in our downtown building, and we provide housing for approximately 50 youth each year through that program. Youth can live in one of three small, shared living communities or in an individual supervised apartment. Youth living in one of our onsite housing units receive the hands-on coaching and support they need to learn life and interpersonal skills while pursuing education and employment goals. Our staff team is onsite 24/7/365, ensuring that youth always have a caring adult to turn to when they are needed.  

Youth in our transitional living program have access to the full range of Outside In’s services, including case management, employment and education programs, mental health and substance use treatment, meals from our drop-in day program, and a primary care medical clinic.  

Each resident works with theirhousing case manager to identify their goals, including what they want to accomplish while in the transitional living program as well as identifying what their next housing situation will be and creating a plan to get there. Many youth have identified goals that include furthering their education and obtaining a job. Youth also have goals that focus on their mental and physical health. 

A Week in the Life of a Housing Case Manager 

We asked one of our Housing Case Managers what their week looked like, and this is what they said: “This week, I gave a client a ride to the dentist and then helped them purchase a used car. For another client, I wrote a referral to developmental disability services so that they can receive the support they are entitled to. I drove another client to the food pantry. And finally, I offered grief support to a client while also helping them stay on track with their GED.” Our Housing Case Managers are not only well trained and incredibly knowledgeable about available supportive services in Portland, but they bring unending compassion and empathy to their work.  

Thoughts from a Housing Case Manager 

Trauma can make you believe that you are going to die young. Youth worry that what they see today isn’t going to still be there tomorrow. They feel shame that they need to ask for help. And they find it hard to be hopeful sometimes. As a Case Manager, we hold hope for youth who aren’t able to hold it for themselves. And – it’s so important to be kind. When you see youth on the street, smile. Look them in the eye. Listen to their story. Say hello. It trickles in, and it matters. 

“It is so rewarding to work with a young person who has their whole life ahead of them, and see it start to take shape. Watching them set their own goals and make choices that get them there (or sometimes that don’t – because that happens) – it reminds me of how capable we all are if we have someone in our corner.” ~Lindsay Hyland, Outside In Housing Case Manager 

Community-Based Housing 

Our support of young people doesn’t end with our onsite transitional living program housing options. We can provide youth with up to 24 months of housing support. Some youth may stay in our onsite housing for 12 months, and then be ready to transition to a community housing option. We are able to offer youth 12 months of rent assistance to support them as they transition into an apartment in the community. Some youth who arrive at Outside In prefer to pursue living independently and are supported to immediately access community housing.  

Each year, we support between 60 and 80 youth who are living in community housing. We have specialized Housing Navigator staff who can support youth through the housing search process. We provide youth with move-in kits to help them feel welcome and set up for success in their new home. Our staff support youth with skills such as interacting with landlords, budgeting, paying bills, grocery shopping, employment barriers, and cooking. Additionally, we help youth navigate disability services and health care systems. These are complex systems, and for youth who don’t have supportive families in their corner – it helps to have someone who can advocate for them and be the squeaky wheel when requesting services. For our youth who have young children, we also support with food resourcesHead Start, and child care.  

More Reflections from a Housing Case Manager 

We asked one of our Housing Case Managers who work with youth in the community about what they find most rewarding in their work. Their response? The humility and perseverance of youth. Young people who have experienced homelessness take setbacks in stride and they figure things out more readily. While they may not have a supportive family in their corner, they have figured out how to advocate for the care that they need. 

What Happens After Youth Leave Outside In? 

One of the most challenging things is when the 12 month of rent assistance comes to an end. Our Housing Case Managers work with youth to apply for affordable housing and transition out of Outside In’s housing program. Unfortunately, there is simply not enough affordable housing in Portland, and youth often struggle to find available housing. As we look towards the future, advocating for building more affordable housing in Portland will continue to be critical to addressing the homeless crisis in our city. 

Outside In is a Nonprofit – and Your Financial Support Matters! 

We are so grateful to be able to provide housing to youth who are experiencing homelessness. And we are incredibly proud of our staff team who are onsite 24/7 (including overnight shifts!) to support our youth whenever help is needed. We are fortunate to receiving funding from public grants and contracts to support this work. But this funding doesn’t cover all of the costs of operating the program. The gap between the cost of our housing services and the funds we receive from grants and contracts is $189,082. Outside In relies on philanthropy to fill this gap. If you would like to support this program, please click here and make a contribution today. 

Thank you!

It is because of you – our community –
that Outside In is able to save the lives of thousands of people each year.

We would love to hear from you!
Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and questions with us.

We are grateful for your support!

Your support of Outside In creates health and hope for the more than 11,000 people we serve every year. We can’t say it enough: THANK YOU!