After roughly a decade and a half of homelessness, Matthew Smith moved into his new home on October 1, 2017. I started outreach with Mr. Smith in September of this year at Clackamette Park in Oregon City. Mr. Smith struggled with both mental health and physical health conditions. While Smith was homeless, he was fortunate to have some income from Social Security.
I set a goal to connect Mr. Smith with the DHS Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Office. Given Mr. Smith's mental/physical health conditions, it was possible he was eligible for government assistance to get him into an assisted living or residential care facility. DHS Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Office could conduct an assessment of Mr. Smith to determine his eligibility.
On October 25, 2017, I was dispatched a call from The Father's Heart Street Ministry regarding Mr. Smith. I picked Mr. Smith up from The Father's Heart Street Ministry and gave him a ride to the DHS Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Office for an intake assessment. I learned Mr. Smith was eligible for assisted living services and he now needed to find placement in a facility.
I continued to follow up with Mr. Smith, who worked toward finding an assisted living/residential care facility with a vacancy. Mr. Smith was committed to finding a facility, was placed on waitlists, and ultimately told me he exhausted the list of facilities he had. I reached out to a couple of facilities and worked with DHS Seniors and Persons with Disabilities to have the necessary documents sent to the facilities. One of the facilities was a residential care facility in the City of Molalla. I worked with staff at the residential care facility to set up an appointment for Mr. Smith at the location on November 27, 2017.
On the morning of November 27, 2017, I picked Mr. Smith up from the Oregon City Transit Center and gave him a ride to the residential care facility in Molalla for his appointment. Mr. Smith was ultimately approved to be a resident at the facility. I worked in collaboration with Mr. Smith's physician and the residential care facility to ensure all necessary paperwork was provided to allow for his admittance to the facility.
On November 30, 2017, a staff member at Mountain View Community Church donated a television to Mr. Smith for his new room. Additionally, I gave Mr. Smith a ride to the Love INC Bridge of Hope Neighborhood Resource Center at 720 Jefferson Street in Oregon City. Love INC is assisting Mr. Smith by providing him with some "move-in" essentials as well.
In an effort to start Mr. Smith off on the right foot in his new home, I reached out to Clackamas County Fire District Number 1 Community Paramedic Amy Jo Cook to see if she had any suggestions for how to acquire some clothing for Mr. Smith. Community Paramedic Amy Jo Cook had some funding available for such a situation and suggested we go shopping. Amy Jo Cook received a grant from Clackamas County giving her funds for homeless outreach. With that said, I met with Community Paramedic Amy Jo Cook and American Medical Response Community Paramedic Dan Hall at the Oregon City Goodwill and we went shopping for Mr. Smith. With much thanks to Amy Jo Cook and Clackamas Fire District Number 1's Community Paramedic program, Mr. Smith will have some clothes to put in his closet.
I met with Robin Schmidt, the director of The Father's Heart Street Ministry, who happily agreed to give Mr. Smith a ride to his new Molalla home on December 1, 2017. I received a text message from Robin on December 1, 2017, informing me they arrived. Robin accompanied the text message with a picture message of her and Mr. Smith.
On December 4, 2017, I went to see Mr. Smith at the facility. I had an opportunity to visit with Mr. Smith in his new room and snap a couple of photographs of him. Mr. Smith gave me permission to share his story. I'm hopeful his story will restore hope in those who may have given up on the thought of ending homelessness in their lives.
Another noteworthy part of Mr. Smith's story is this; during my outreach with Mr. Smith, he had an open case in the Oregon City Municipal Court for Prohibited Camping. I had the opportunity to attend a couple of Mr. Smith's Court appearances, and Judge Laraine McNiece allowed me to speak about the work Mr. Smith and I had been doing together. Both Judge McNiece and the City Attorney Rebecca Schalager were open to creative approaches to resolving Mr. Smith's Prohibited Camping case.
Mr. Smith chose to plead guilty to the Prohibited Camping charge, but sentencing for the offense was deferred under special circumstances. Recognizing that ending Mr. Smith's homelessness would effectively resolve the Prohibited Camping issue, Judge McNiece and City Attorney Schalager were open to giving Mr. Smith time to find housing. However, the amount of time allotted was dependent upon Mr. Smith actively working to find housing. So long as Mr. Smith 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.
Mr. Smith had an upcoming court date on December 12, 2017, to inform the court of his progress. As Mr. Smith found housing, I communicated the good news to the court. I was informed by Judge McNiece that Mr. Smith did not need to attend the court date. Judge McNiece asked me to tell Mr. Smith they were proud of him the next time I saw him. The icing on the cake is Mr. Smith's Prohibited Camping charge will be dismissed.
- Homeless Liaison Officer Mike Day