The Portland Area Housing Clearinghouse (PAHC) will create a new, virtual, one-stop housing center to serve the City of Portland and its surrounding counties. Staff at over 75 area housing and agencies serving homeless, low-income residents who need housing and social services, and providers of affordable housing will be able to come together via an electronic platform to connect and do business. The platform will enable end users to find affordable housing and access a full continuum of housing services that are available to assist the region's low-income residents. In addition, the Clearinghouse will bring together the large and complex array of housing-related services for the coordinated delivery of support to Portland's families and low- income residents who are struggling to find and maintain safe, decent, and reliable shelter. Staff at PAHC member agencies will interact over a virtual private network supporting a housing database and interactive system that will provide assistance with client screening, information and referral, housing assessment, and finding available units. Eventually, the PAHC will support online appointment-making at PAHC member agencies, online waiting list registration, and uniform client outcome tracking.
The Portland School District has recognized a correlation between the rising number of low- income families who are forced to move and change schools multiple times during each school year and low student achievement. Clearly, the negative effects of homelessness and frequent displacement on the health, education, and economic security of our nation's children are tremendous. This project is significant in that Portland, like most urban areas, has worked hard to provide a safety net for low-income families; there are organizations that provide transitional housing, rent and deposit assistance, legal aid, and many other services. The problem Portland has identified is that the safety net has become too large and complex. The PAHC project will provide a model that can be replicated nationwide for maintaining an interactive, updated electronic catalog of the City's vast housing resources. Its design will be unique in that it will be one of the first such databases that can be used by member agencies for actual problem-solving and case work, as well as serve as a web-accessible resource for people in need of housing- related services.
The City of Portland, through the Bureau of Housing and Community Development (BHCD), and the Bureau of Information Technology (BIT) will partner with the Portland Housing Center (PHC), a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income Portlanders find decent housing. The City and PHC will finance, design, develop and implement PAHC in cooperation with over seven PAHC member agencies.