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In Their Steps: The Day of Homelessness Awareness, 2014

In Their Steps

On November 21, Take a Walk in the Steps of a Homeless Family

Jocelyn, a homeless mother of three young children, begins her day early at the Goose Hollow Family Shelter in Southwest Portland. By 7:30 AM, she and her children are out of the shelter and facing their list of challenges for the day: finding food, getting kids to and from school, looking for work. In addition to all this, Jocelyn needs to look for housing for herself and her children, and the only places she can find that she might be able to afford to rent are all in outer east Portland, nearly an hour and a half away by MAX. Jocelyn has to hold all this together while living in a shelter with none of her own things besides a few changes of clothes, and managing the traumatic experiences that led up to her being homeless in the first place.

On November 21, you are invited to take a walk in the steps of a homeless family. “In Their Steps” is an experiential journey that invites you walk in one family’s steps on the streets of downtown Portland, experience their daily routines, choices and struggles, and then join the discussion about creative solutions to homelessness.

November 21 marks the Day of Homelessness Awareness in Portland and Multnomah County. The day’s events begin at 7:30 AM with the Walk of Homelessness Awareness, starting at Goose Hollow Family Shelter, located at First United Methodist Church (1838 SW Jefferson St.). 7:30 AM coincides with the time when the families typically leave the shelter. After a tour of the family shelter, small groups of participants will walk the same route many of the families take each day, beginning their “urban pilgrimage” in the steps of homeless families. En route, groups will be asked to read and discuss real-life scenarios from the lives of homeless families--stories that detail their daily lives and their struggles to move forward. Groups will stop along the way at Clay Street Table (SW 13th and Clay) for a hot breakfast and coffee, and then continue on for a tour of the 13 Salmon Family Day Center at First Unitarian Church (1034 SW 13th Ave.), where many of the families spend time each day.

Following the walk, participants are invited to a forum on Creative Solutions to Homelessness, sponsored by the Portland Human Rights Commission. The forum will take place at First Unitarian Church from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Lunch will be provided. Breakout sessions at the forum will focus on topics such as microhousing, social enterprise, and a proposed housing trust fund.

The Day of Homelessness Awareness is organized by New City Initiative, whose mission is engaging faith communities in ending the cycle of homelessness. The Day of Homelessness Awareness takes place each year in conjunction with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. For more information, including a route map of the Walk of Awareness and a program for the housing forum, go to Like New CIty Initiative on Facebook ( and follow them on Twitter (@NewCityInit/#InTheirSteps) for ongoing updates.

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