On July 20, 2017, I conducted outreach with David Wiest at the Community Solutions building in Oregon City. Mr. Wiest informed me he'd been homeless for about 6 months. He was living unsheltered, which is challenging on its own. In addition to the challenges of living unsheltered, Mr. Wiest is physically disabled and wheelchair-bound, which adds further tribulations to his situation.
During our conversation, Mr. Wiest informed me he'd recently been victimized at a time when he was particularly vulnerable. Someone stole his cell phone during the course of a medical emergency. I reached out to Clackamas County Fire District Number 1's Community Paramedic Amy Jo Cook for assistance. Community Paramedic Cook came to our location and gifted Mr. Wiest a cellphone with minutes and some other items. A cell phone is a critical tool for communication and valuable for Mr. Wiest to possess during our outreach efforts.
In search of housing for Mr. Wiest, I contacted the Clackamas County Coordinated Housing Access on his behalf. I learned Mr. Wiest was qualified for 3 housing programs and he was on a waitlist for each. Over the course of about the next 6 months, I worked with Mr. Wiest to find alternative housing options. As Mr. Wiest was disabled, I collaborated with Adult Protected Services as well as the Seniors and Persons with Disabilities office. The Seniors and Persons with Disabilities office has the capacity to conduct intake assessments to determine if an individual is eligible for residential care/assisted living services.
On December 4, 2017, I met with Mr. Wiest and his Seniors and Persons with Disabilities case manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken, where he underwent an assessment. I later learned Mr. Wiest was eligible for adult foster care, residential care, and assisted living services. On January 9, 2018, I went to an Oregon City independent living and residential care facility to see if they had any rooms available. I learned the facility did have a vacancy. I made arrangements to meet Mr. Wiest at the facility later in the day so he could take a tour.
Mr. Wiest and I met at the facility that afternoon and toured the location. The staff were abundantly helpful and informed us the vacant room would be reserved for Mr. Wiest. Mr. Wiest could essentially move into the location once the facility had doctor's orders. With this good news, we scheduled a doctor's appointment for Mr. Wiest for the next day. I met Mr. Wiest at his doctor's appointment on January 10, 2018, and helped facilitate his acquisition of doctor's orders. Staff at the medical office went above and beyond to help Mr. Wiest, understand what these orders meant to him.
On January 11, 2018, Mr. Wiest and I again met at the residential care facility for a follow-up. This was a big day for Mr. Wiest as he was given keys to his new room with a move-in date of January 12, 2018. I obtained a photograph of Mr. Wiest and me with his keys in hand. Knowing Mr. Wiest now has a warm and safe place to sleep at night is exciting.
Another noteworthy part of Mr. Wiest's story is this; during my outreach with Mr. Wiest, he had an open case in the Oregon City Municipal Court for Prohibited Camping. I attended court appearances with Mr. Wiest and Judge Laraine McNiece allowed me to speak about the work Mr. Wiest and I had been doing together. This is the second instance where Judge McNiece and City Attorney Rebecca Schalager were open to a creative approach to resolving a Prohibited Camping case. The first instance was for a formerly homeless man named Matthew Smith. Matthew Smith ultimately found housing and his Prohibited Camping case was dismissed because of it. Read more about Mr. Smith's outreach story.
Much like Mr. Smith, Mr. Wiest plead guilty to Prohibited Camping, and his sentencing for the offense was deferred under special circumstances. Recognizing that ending Mr. Wiest's homelessness would effectively resolve the Prohibited Camping issue, Judge McNiece and City Attorney Schalager were open to giving Mr. Wiest time to find housing. So long as Mr. Wiest was doing everything he could do to find housing, his sentencing would be deferred and he would occasionally report to the court with updates about his progress.
As Mr. Wiest found housing, I communicated the exciting news to the court. As the ultimate goal of Mr. Wiest finding housing was achieved, Judge McNiece informed me Mr. Wiest's Prohibited Camping case would be dismissed.
Thank you to the community members and organizations who helped put an end to Mr. Wiest's period of homelessness. It is by working together that we see success. Also, a special thanks to Mr. Wiest for letting me share his story.
Homeless Liaison Officer Mike Day