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Central City Concern is on a mission to end homelessness

People can support their mission this week during the "Compassion in Action" fundraising event, airing on KGW on Thursday, Oct. 28.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Central City Concern, a Portland-based nonprofit, is on a mission to end homelessness by offering addiction services, housing, support and employment. 

Almost everyone working at CCC has one thing in common: they've lived lives that, at one point, kept them from a home to safely live in.

Kenneth Morgan is a trainer for Downtown Portland Clean & Safe, a program that partners with Central City Concern's Clean Start program and trains, mentors and employs people who are formerly homeless or face other issues that make it difficult for them to find jobs.

Morgan said he lived a troubled life for more than 30 years before finally getting help.

"I was homeless for five years," he said. "Bad relationship. Lies. Drugs. She brought someone home and they shot me, left me for dead." 

From his hospital bed, he called a friend at CCC. 

"[I said] I need housing. I need to get clean again. And he said, 'You're hired.'"

Morgan now helps train new employees on how to safely clean Portland's streets of trash, human waste and graffiti.

"I made a phone call from a hospital bed. I got a job. Two months later I got an apartment. And here I am," Morgan said.

Jacklyn Smith grew up in a family with a history of addiction. 

"I had an extensive history of trauma," she said. She started using drugs to cope, and at 19 years old, sought change and a safe home. With help from Central City Concern, she’s in a new home with her 1-year-old daughter Scarlet. 

"Central City Concern gives me an opportunity to live the life that I wanted to live, that I do want to live," she said. 

In 2020, CCC maintained 27 properties offering affordable housing units and helped get thousands of people into permanent housing. A new project, the Westwind Apartments in Old Town, broke ground this summer and is expected to open in 2022. 

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"Housing is health. If we can get people into housing and stable housing, we can start to address the challenges that they're facing," said Juliana Lukasik with CCC. 

Lukasik said the challenges of mental health, drug addiction and homelessness are met with CCC's jobs, health centers and places to live. 

"It's a very direct way to help people lift themselves up and have sustainable lives," said Lukasik. "We're going to get people housed. And then we're going to get people healthy. And then we're going to get people employed. And they're going to be able to start their lives."

To help with Central City Concern's mission, the fundraising event "Compassion in Action" will air Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. on KGW. Money raised will help keep people like Jacklyn and Kenneth housed and employed. 

It'll stream live on KGW.com, the KGW News app and on KGW's YouTube and Facebook channels. It will also stream live on Central City Concern's YouTube and Facebook channels.

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