On July 24, I began conducting outreach with a 57-year-old woman named Kathy Knox.
Oregon City Police Department Sgt. Cynthia Gates recently informed me Kathy was about to be homeless and asked if I would reach out to her. I met with Kathy at her manufactured home and listened to her story.
Kathy's father died about one month ago, and the manufactured home belonged to her and her father. Kathy had to sell their home, as she was unable to afford rent at the mobile-home park. Much of the proceeds from the home went to cover the cost of her father's funeral.
Kathy was unemployed, had no source of income, and she wasn't receiving food benefits through the Department of Human Services. She was very much on the brink of homelessness. I set a goal to assist Kathy with receiving food benefits to meet her basic need to eat. I also set a goal to get Kathy into an emergency shelter, as homelessness was imminent.
During the course of my outreach with Kathy, I contacted the Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter (S.A.F.E.S.) and got Kathy on the waitlist for their dormitory program. S.A.F.E.S basic services include shelter, showers, restrooms, snacks, lockers, telephone, laundry, support groups, activities, housing case management, information, referrals and advocacy. S.A.F.E.S. mission is "Empowering women to move from homelessness to housing."
On July 31 I followed-up with Kathy and we filled out her SNAP food-benefits application. I gave Kathy a ride to the local DHS office and she went through the intake process for food benefits. Kathy's food benefits were approved and she was set to receive her first food benefit on Aug. 1. Kathy was issued her EBT food-benefit card while we were at DHS.
On Aug. 3 I picked Kathy up and gave her a ride to S.A.F.E.S. We met with staff at the location and Kathy was assigned a bed. Kathy was also scheduled for an appointment with an advocate. Kathy can stay at the location as long as necessary while she works to get back on her feet, so long as she abides by the rules.
Thank you to Sgt. Gates for recognizing Kathy was in need of assistance and ensuring she received it. Thank you, DHS, for your efficiency in approving Kathy for food benefits. Thank you, S.A.F.E.S., for providing a place for Kathy to call home while she works to obtain self-sufficiency. It was a joy to work with Kathy in my position as the homeless liaison officer. Kathy's positive attitude in the midst of grief and facing homelessness was inspiring.
Mike Day is the homeless liaison officer for the Oregon City Police Department.