New Narrative has taken over management for the Breitung Building in Portland, a property focused on housing previously unhoused veterans. The Breitung Building opened in 2020 as a collaborative program incorporating a 28-unit, project-based, Permanent Veterans Supportive Housing Facility in partnership with Housing and Urban Development (HUD)”s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) and the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS).
Barriers to Stable Housing for Veterans
There are many factors contributing to housing instability for veterans today. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, mental health challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression can make it more difficult to navigate life after service. Many experience a lack of transferable professional skills from military to civilian life, on top of the growing lack of affordable housing options. According to a recent study from the State of Oregon Employment Department, Oregon veterans are also more likely to have a disability than non-veterans.
Peers Supporting Peers
The Breitung Program’s goal is to reintegrate displaced and at-risk veterans back into the community to sustain independent living, restoring their dignity and promoting community awareness. Peer Support Specialists with lived experience as veterans are on-site 24/7 to help residents navigate life’s obstacles. “We are providing housing for homeless veterans with unique needs and staffed primarily by veterans with similar life experiences,” said Drew Didway, one of the Peer Support Specialists on staff. Residents and peers work hand in hand to foster community and make the building a home. “We added Breitung to our mission-based property management portfolio because there is overwhelming need for housing for veterans in Portland, said CEO Julie Ibrahim. “Hundreds of veterans are homeless in the Metro area. They deserve the dignity of a roof over their head and a place to feel safe.”
The Breitung Building includes ten studio apartments, 18 one-bedroom apartments, on-site laundry and a community space. The program serves veterans that qualify for the supportive housing program through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Specifically, this program aims to provide a stable place for houseless and vulnerable veterans to call home. Currently, 23 of the 28 units are filled, with residents from the Metro area ranging from 30 to 75 years of age. Most of these veterans are combat veterans who have disabilities related to their service.
Hundreds of veterans are homeless in the Metro area. They deserve the dignity of a roof over their head and a place to feel safe.
For many veterans, finding a place not just to call home but also to be embraced by a supportive community helps them to connect back with themselves and the broader Portland area. Breitung is a place where veterans can step out of survival mode and find peace among their peers.
How to Support Veterans in this Program
The program under New Narrative’s management is brand new; for anyone wishing to support the veteran residents, Program Manager Coy Glass has some ideas. “Shelf-stable food is always a good way to support our residents,” he said. An on-site pantry offsets the costs of groceries for residents who choose to use it. For the currently mostly-bare community room, Coy is looking for furniture such as chairs and couches, coffee tables, and desks. “We are also looking for ways to provide social engagement opportunities for residents through games and activities. Board games, a foosball or ping pong table, gaming systems, corn hole boards, and other ideas are welcome.”
For more information about Breitung and to be connected to program staff for item donations and other ideas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month. Please consider supporting New Narrative with a gift this season to further the reach of our housing and mental health services in the Greater Portland area. Donate today.