Plagued by Crises, Oregon Looks to Motels as Creative Solution to Sheltering the Unhoused

The program launched last year and administered by the Oregon Community Foundation is finally realizing its full potential, adding more than 900 units of emergency shelter to state’s capacity in 19 projects across 13 counties.

A few months ago, Troy and Danette were living in the only home they could afford when they became houseless.

At $400 a month, they were renting two bedrooms in a decrepit old house in rural Yamhill County and sharing it with their elderly landlord.

motel 6
This former Motel 6 along Highway 99W on McMinnville’s south side is the site of Yamhill Community Action Partnership’s new Project Turnkey emergency housing shelter. The organization is one of 19 statewide to acquire funding through an Oregon Community Foundation grant allowing YCAP to make the $3.9 million purchase. Courtesy of Yamhill Community Action Partnership

When the aging property owner’s children decided to move him out of the home, they also boarded up the house, which had fallen into complete disrepair.

“That left us with no place to go,” said Troy, who spoke to OPB on the condition that he give only his first name.

“They really didn’t give us much notice. They pulled all the appliances out, there were opossums coming in at night, and they were going to totally turn the electricity and everything off by the first of April.”

According to Troy, Danette has congestive heart failure and diabetes among other serious health conditions. Troy’s health is also strained, but mostly he feared for his wife.

“Being on the street like that would have killed my wife,” he said. “Just the stress alone of not knowing where we were gonna go was pretty hard.”

But luckily for Troy, that was right around the same time he met Sean Cavaghan, one of several outreach specialists for Yamhill Community Action Partnership, or YCAP, a houseless services provider based in McMinnville.

Over the past year, YCAP and other agencies across Oregon have seen success in a creative solution to emergency housing: using the state’s stock of empty motels as non-congregate shelter for people vulnerable to COVID-19 or people who have been victims of wildfire.

Cavaghan introduced Troy to a program YCAP had been running since around March 2020 that grew out of a partnership with Providence Newberg Medical Center to shelter unhoused people who were medically vulnerable.

Troy and Danette were able to be set up in their own motel room for a few months while they got back on their feet with the help of Cavaghan and other YCAP staff who came to check on them regularly to ensure medical and other needs were being met.

According to Cavaghan, a huge part of the outreach process includes just speaking to clients, learning their story and identifying what other services they could benefit from.

Eventually YCAP was able to find housing for Troy and Danette and help them apply for Section 8 vouchers.

Cavaghan said that one of the biggest challenges for unhoused people is having access to a phone or the internet, critical tools when you’re trying to find a place to live or navigate government systems.

With YCAP’s help and some federal assistance money, Troy and Danette are now living in their own home.

“That organization pretty much saved us,” Troy said. “I don’t want to sound like a cliche, but I was checking (Sean) for wings and a halo.”

A creative solution to a complex problem

Troy and Danette’s story is familiar to just about anyone in Oregon who works in homeless services. But this framework for helping vulnerable people get into stable housing where wrap-around services are made readily available has provided a breakthrough for Oregon in finding a new model of emergency shelter.

That new model took the form of Project Turnkey, a grant program administered by the Oregon Community Foundation that has allowed agencies like YCAP to purchase former motels across the state at the cost of $75 million to add more than 900 units of emergency shelter to the state’s portfolio.

This money allowed 13 Oregon counties to purchase 19 properties that account for a 20% increase in Oregon’s year-round emergency shelter capacity. Those counties are: Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Deschutes, Jackson, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Marion, Coos, Umatilla, Klamath and Benton.

Many properties purchased through Project Turnkey are currently being operated as emergency shelters, but others are requiring extensive upgrades to meet the needs of the agencies and communities using them.

Each project is at a different stage. For example, in Jackson County, a 47-unit motel in Medford is currently one-third occupied while the other two-thirds receives a major face lift. Another in Portland is receiving updates now and is expected to open in September. About 16 of the 19 properties are housing occupants in some capacity, according to the Oregon Community Foundation.

The program officially got off the ground in November 2020 when the state Legislature’s emergency board set aside $65 million for the Oregon Community Foundation to administer the grants. Counties and other groups soon began submitting applications.

Two separate funds were provided by the state in that initial cash infusion: one totaling $30 million to be awarded in counties and tribal communities impacted by the 2020 wildfires; and one totaling $44.7 million for the remaining 28 counties in the state.

The Oregon Legislature ended up setting aside an additional $9 million in late June to fill a gap and allow agencies in Bend and Portland to pursue three more opportunities.

To keep track of the program’s progress and vet projects along the way, the Oregon Community Foundation created an advisory committee that keeps tabs on how the properties are being used and what types of outcomes they’re seeing among the people they are helping.

Megan Loeb, Oregon Community Foundation program officer for economic vitality and health, said that her agency is focused on being good stewards of the funds to ensure that every dollar is a community asset that helps the state both in the short and long term.

“We believe this is a model public-private partnership to help address a very complex problem,” Loeb said.

Project Turnkey recently received some praise when the National Alliance to End Homelessness — a nonprofit that gathers data and produces research on best practices — featured the program in a July 20 case study on turning motels into housing.

One of the findings of that study commended the state and the Oregon Community Foundation’s ability to have strong oversight through the advisory committee. It also praised the program for ensuring that each project has a community-centered approach with strategies that take into account both the short and long-term goals of each project.

“The collective wisdom of many public and private sector partners helped this concept to gain traction within Oregon’s Legislature and at the local level within communities,” the study said. “Those partners informed the design and priorities of the grant program, and continue to engage as champions and technical assistance providers to ensure long-term success of the initiative.”

Quantifying success of Project Turnkey

Cavaghan says the great thing about the Project Turnkey model is that it provides people like Troy and Danette a sense of stability.

For people who come out of congregate housing settings, it allows them to rebuild the soft skills that come with living on your own and establish the type of headspace that allows unhoused individuals to move forward into more permanent housing situations.

“I think the best outcome is just being happy and healthy,” Cavaghan said. “Just being in their own space and being able to do things they wanted to do. The question that comes up all the time is, ‘What are you doing for fun or enjoyment?’ Usually the answer is nothing. Usually it’s just survival.”

In Multnomah County, the Project Turnkey model has done much of the same it has for Yamhill: it allows agencies to adapt on the fly and respond to emergencies.

According to Denis Theriault — a Multnomah County communications coordinator who works closely with the joint office of homeless services — using motels to house vulnerable unhoused populations was an easy way to help limit the spread of COVID-19. As the pandemic worsened, Multnomah County was increasingly challenged by the prospect of keeping unhoused people taking shelter in spaces like the Oregon Convention Center socially distanced.

“Even in those places, even when you got six feet around you, you’re still in a congregate space,” Theriault said. “A lot of people in shelters are older, 65 and up, and have health conditions.”

The county began putting people up in several motels across Portland, and when the Oregon Community Foundation announced Project Turnkey would provide the county and its partners the ability to permanently purchase motel property, they jumped at the opportunity.

Theriault says the county operates approximately 1,400 shelter beds on any given day. Through Project Turnkey, they’ve been able to partner with organizations like Do Good Multnomah, Central City Concern and the Rockwood Community Development Corporation to add 188 beds, getting the county closer to its goal of adding 400 permanent beds.

Housing crises not just a ‘Portland issue’

Theriault said that Project Turnkey is able to address housing issues on a statewide level because Oregon’s housing crisis isn’t an issue exclusive to the metro area. He said that when other counties add shelter or transitional housing capacity, it alleviates strain across the entire state.

“The housing crisis, it’s not a Multnomah County issue,” Theriault said. “People who see Portland and Multnomah County as sort of this example of what went wrong, … it’s going wrong in their communities too. And Project Turnkey, smartly, is helping them get some resources in recognition that there’s things they can do to help their folks too.”

Affordability is another big issue that plays into Oregon’s housing and homeless crisis.

If you ask around the state, you might hear a few different answers as to where the most unaffordable community in Oregon truly is.

One of those places is Benton County, and Corvallis specifically, where — according to Corvallis Housing First Director Andrea Myhre — rent-to-income ratios are on the extreme end of unaffordability.

“We’re right up there with Portland,” Myhre said.

Myhre said that Benton County also lacks a diversity in different styles and levels of housing, similar to many other parts of the state struggling with housing instability and homelessness.

According to Myhre, having the ability to purchase a 25-unit property just outside of downtown Corvallis not only addressed issues around congregate sheltering while the pandemic remains, but also adding stock to their market for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness.

“It is so hard to find land or any development sites here,” Myhre said. “The exciting thing is we have a half acre of land in the back of the property, so we were like, ‘Great, let’s build more’”.

Planning for the future

At its beginning, Project Turnkey was laser focused on sheltering individuals who were vulnerable to COVID-19 or were victims of wildfire. As the pandemic lingers and wildfire returns to Oregon’s landscape, the properties continue to serve a primary function in the rapid rehousing of vulnerable populations.

But many of the service providers that have purchased motels as shelters have big ideas for what might come next. They’re also planning how to fund these operations on an ongoing basis after receiving a one-time allocation to acquire them.

For Myhre, being able to offer supportive services is as important as the physical roof over people’s heads, so ensuring they are able to continue staffing the shelter has been a big issue.

That’s also true for many of the organizations and counties that have participated in Project Turnkey.

According to Theriault, programs in Washington and Multnomah counties have been able to staff the shelter with money made available through the supportive housing services ballot measure passed by Portland-area voters last year.

Other counties are not as fortunate, so many of them had to go out for other grants or partnerships that will allow them to continue staffing these new shelters at a high level.

Mary-Rain O’Meara, Central City Concern’s director of real estate, said that in the near term her organization is focusing on the permanent housing aspect of Project Turnkey — helping those experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders stabilize and transition on their way to more permanent housing.

But in the long term, Central City Concern plans to expand use of the property it purchased — the former Comfort Inn and Suites located near 102nd Avenue near the Portland Airport — by adding it to its list of Federally Qualified Health Centers in partnership with the Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Health Authority and Legacy Health.

Central City Concern is billing it as a “recovery hotel,” where clients can receive the medical and behavioral healthcare they need to move forward. They expect to begin renovations on that property in October.

“It has been a unique challenge to take on this ‘patchwork’ approach to fundraising for operations of the building, but we are committed … to put the building to work housing those most in need of these services,” O’Meara said.

In Benton County, Corvallis Housing First is relying on funds from emergency solutions grants through the Department of Housing and Community Services and the “Rural Oregon Continuum of Care,’’ which disperses federal housing and urban development dollars to the 28 counties that aren’t considered Orgon’s metropolitan cores.

“We’re (now) able to pay for operational expenses and some facilities renovations through the first 12 months,” Myhre said. “We do have questions about what we are going to do after that.”

Myhre said that her organization was able to garner help from their state and federal representatives — State Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis; and Congressman Peter DeFazio — to add an additional $8 million so they can build more transitional apartments on the half-acre lot behind their Project Turnkey property.

In Jackson County, Chad McComas, the executive director of Rogue Retreat, has taken a somewhat different approach than what Project Turnkey has typically seen throughout the state.

The 47-unit motel his organization purchased in the heart of Medford will operate more as transitional housing. They’ll focus on rapid rehousing of wildfire victims — a continued issue following the Almeda Fire that swept through the region at the end of last summer — particularly those within the local Latino community.

Rogue Retreat is currently putting approximately $30,000 into renovations on each unit, 15-16 of which will have small kitchens and basically be studio apartments. The total cost of the project, funded through the Oregon Community Foundation grant, will come in around $2.5 million.

Rogue Retreat is doing the renovations in phases, so currently two-thirds of its units are open for business while one-third of units undergo renovations. They’ll also have recuperative rooms dedicated to outpatient care for unhoused individuals who need to recover after receiving medical care through a partnership with their local Providence Health system.

Beyond those units, the rest of the property will operate much like an apartment complex, with tenants paying a modest rent to fund ongoing wraparound services and case management at the property in order to move residents upward on what McComas describes as the “staircase of housing.”

That rent also helps cover the cost of utilities, building upkeep and an on-site manager. Operating the motel like an apartment complex will also help people rebuild their sense of self sufficiency so they can continue to move forward.

“Whenever they start getting jobs, they start getting income, and they start putting the pieces of their lives back together,” McComas said. “Maybe they get help to get their addiction to start dropping off, maybe their mental health improves, now they can afford a small apartment. So we just keep moving them up the staircase.”

McComas said that the opportunity that Project Turnkey has provided for Rogue Retreat is a “game changer,” one that allows them to take ownership of a strategic property without a massive mortgage hanging over their head.

He said Project Turnkey is a chance for the state to save money. Instead of unhoused Oregonians languishing on the streets, the program has provided another 900-plus beds across the state for people to begin the journey of rebuilding their lives in healthier, more stable environments.

“The cost of having somebody on the street is huge,” he said. “If we get a person housed there’s a better chance that they will now be able to turn their life around and start giving back to society. It’s just a smart thing to do, if not the moral thing to do.”

For Troy and Danette, that’s exactly what the model of Project Turnkey has provided, and they’re grateful to both the state and its partners in identifying a thoughtful solution to support thousands of people like themselves who fall on hard times.

“It’s genius. I mean, It’s just common sense,” Troy said. “In a country as affluent as we are, there’s no reason anybody should not have a roof over their head.”

Article by: Sam Stites | Source

Despite Mixed Messaging, Oregon’s Indoor Mask Mandate Remains in Place

Mixed messages from the state leaves some residents and business owners thinking the mask mandate is lifted.

View video here

Whether or not a mask is required in Oregon businesses should be an easy question to answer. As of May 17th, Oregon’s rules do require people to wear masks indoors.

But after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) announcement on May 13th, which said fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask for most indoor environments, and Gov. Kate Brown’s statement that Oregon would follow CDC guidance, it’s hard to blame anyone who thinks the mask mandate is gone in Oregon.

It is not gone.

In fact, when it comes to indoor retail businesses, nothing has changed. Masks are still required everywhere in Oregon inside businesses.

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) leaders are working on their own rules to go along with the CDC, but it’s not ready yet.

Last week, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said he expected the new rules will include a requirement that customers show vaccination cards before they enter businesses without a mask.

Many business owners are against the idea, including Dan Afrasiabi who owns several Planet Fitness gyms in Oregon.

“We think some sort of honor system consistent with what president Biden and the CDC have said, as they’ve outlined, are sufficient to achieve the right balance for businesses and Oregon citizens,” Afrasiabi said.

He added that his gyms will follow whatever guidance the OHA comes up with, but he does not like the idea of his staff checking for vaccination proof.

“Standard retail teams are just not trained to be able to review things like vaccination cards or photos of vaccination cards – so it just needs to be well thought out,” Afrasiabi said.

In the meantime, mask mandates are all over the board in both Oregon and Washington. Washington allowed businesses to drop the mask rule for those who are fully vaccinated and is not requiring proof.

During phone calls to find out how stores handled the rules, we began in Vancouver with a Target store. We were told they were not requiring masks for those who are vaccinated.

A Vancouver area Walmart was requiring masks, which seemed to go against its national corporate policy.

A Vancouver Starbucks said masks were still required, even though the corporate office issued a statement, which said masks for those fully vaccinated were not needed unless mandated by local law.

In the Portland area, the Hillsboro Costco reported customers did not need a mask if fully vaccinated.

A Portland area Target said they were not enforcing mask use by customers.

A Portland area Walmart also did not require masks for those who said they were fully vaccinated.

A Starbucks store in NW Portland said masks were still being required and customers could not sit inside to sip coffee.

Article by Pat Dooris | Source

Grocery Workers, Realtors Among Oregon Front-Line Workers Eligible for Vaccine April 5th

The state announced Friday that people in Group 7 of Phase 1B will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine two weeks earlier than planned.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Kat Granum has worked in the real estate industry for eight years. She says the last year has been the most stressful.

“We’ve been working since the stay-at-home order hit,” she said. “Trying to use all the safety precautions. Masks, gloves when they were recommended.”

Granum has been waiting for her chance to get vaccinated, and it is going to happen sooner than she thought.

Realtors were slated to become eligible for a vaccine in mid-April, but the timeline has been accelerated. Realtors are now eligible for vaccinations beginning April 5.

“I got an email from the Oregon Realtors Association and I immediately told my husband,” Granum said. “I was just really excited to have the opportunity.”

Just as excited as Granum are grocery workers. They, too, can get a vaccine two weeks sooner than expected.

“These workers can’t work from home,” said Miles Eshaia of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555. “They can’t work remotely. They’ve shown up to work everyday throughout all of this since the beginning. Having access to the vaccine if they want it is a really good thing.”

RELATED: Oregon moves up vaccine eligibility for front-line workers, adults with underlying conditions

There are dozens upon dozens of front-line workers who will become eligible for a vaccine as soon as the first Monday in April. Those working in food service, finance and the legal profession are included in the group.

“In keeping with Oregon’s commitment to equity, this change gives front-line workers and other [Phase 1B, Group 7] populations more time to get vaccinated,” said Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority.

Allen says the state is able to move up the vaccine timeline two weeks early because more and more doses are coming in from the federal government and counties and health providers are making progress vaccinating seniors.

Granum is ready for her shot. She plans to jump online and schedule a vaccine appointment as soon as she is allowed.

“I don’t know if it’s a day my kids get to go to school but if it is, I’ll be on the computer right after they leave.”

 Mike Benner | Source: here

Long Wait Times at PDX Vaccination Clinic Cause Concern

vaccination wait
Wait times reached upwards of two hours Saturday afternoon into the evening at the OHSU COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Portland Airport. March 6, 2021 (Courtesy Photo)

Some people were stuck waiting in line for hours to get their coronavirus vaccine Saturday evening at the Portland Airport clinic.

One woman reached out to KATU News saying that her appointment was scheduled for 4:45 p.m. and was still in line after 7 p.m. Photos she shared showed long lines of cars waiting.

KATU News reached out to OHSU to asked about what caused the back-up and if this sort of wait time was normal.

PAST COVERAGE | Mass vaccination clinics open, but vaccine supply remains low

On Sunday, an OHSU spokesperson responding saying, in this instance, wait times reached up to two and a half hours due to “unexpected delays during the afternoon shift changes and patients arriving hours early or late for their appointments, when the vaccine they were scheduled to receive had not yet been prepared.”

OHSU apologized for any inconveniences the delays created, and said that no vaccines were wasted and no patients were turned away. Anyone was not able to wait was rescheduled to come back on Sunday to be vaccinated.

When asked what a normal wait time was for this vaccination clinic, the spokesperson said it varies, reporting that Sunday morning’s wait times were around 30 minutes.

READ MORE | Coronavirus Coverage

According to OHSU, 5,766 Oregonians were vaccinated at the PDX mass vaccination site and hospital officials expect to vaccinate another 5,600 people on Sunday.

Article source here.

How to Schedule COVID-19 Vaccines in Oregon as Seniors 80 and Older Become Eligible

Covid vaccine
Kelli Newcom, R.N., preps vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to teachers and educators at The Oregon Convention Center on January 27, 2021, in Portland.Brooke Herbert/The Oregonian

 As of Monday morning, Oregonians ages 80 and older are now eligible for vaccines against COVID-19, making older residents the newest group to gain access to protection against the coronavirus.

State officials acknowledged last week that the sign-up process for seniors could bring chaos, and that was true early Monday.

The Oregon Health Authority did not make clear when the online system would begin allowing appointment scheduling, prompting frustration among some who stayed up late or woke up early. Some state officials were under the impression scheduling wouldn’t go live until noon. But the site began booking appointments at about 9 a.m. Monday, with the first availability for shots Wednesday at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

As older Oregonians begin to make their way to vaccinations sites around the state, here are five important things to know about getting that much-awaited protection against COVID-19.

1. Only seniors 80 and older will be eligible, for now.

Monday marks the first of four phases to vaccinate seniors in Oregon this winter. People ages 75 and older will be eligible in the next phase starting Feb. 15, followed by people 70 and older on Feb. 22, and people 65 and older on March 1.

State officials are asking for patience and ask that only people who are eligible seek appointments in the coming days. The state announced Friday that it would debut a new tool on its covidvaccine.oregon.gov website this week that allows users to sign up to get email alerts or text notifications about vaccine events in their area.

2. Make an appointment online.

Eligible seniors can make an appointment online by going to covidvaccine.oregon.gov. In the center of the page there’s a link that says, “Vaccine Eligibility & FAQ Tool” with a button that says, “Let’s Get Started.” That option prompts a chat service that can help determine if you’re eligible and redirect to an appointment page if so.

The first appointments for seniors should become available online at 9 a.m. Monday, according to Washington County Health and Human Services.

It appears the online system may be the preferred, if not only, means of signing up.

“People who don’t have internet access or a smartphone, may get a family member, friend or neighbor, or reach out to a community or faith group they are part of to register for them,” Multnomah County officials wrote.

If you need assistance by phone, call 2-1-1. Seniors can also send an email to ORCOVID@211info.org, or text the message ORCOVID to the number 898211 to begin a conversation about scheduling an appointment.

3. Don’t expect to get an appointment right away.

Luck may play a role in how quickly you’re able to get an appointment. Some may be able to book one right away, while many others will have to wait several weeks to make an appointment, let alone get vaccinated. Factors will include where you live, how many others around you are eligible at the same time, and how quickly you navigate the online system.

Public health officials have warned that this week could bring “chaos,” as the state still suffers from inadequate vaccine supply to meet the increased demand.

4. Vaccination locations will vary by county, many will take place at mass clinic sites.

Oregon’s most populous counties have set up mass clinics to dole out the vaccines. Two such clinics at the Oregon Convention Center and Portland International Airport will serve many in the Portland metropolitan area, while the Oregon State Fairgrounds will serve those in the Salem area.

Local pharmacies will eventually be able to offer vaccinations in some Oregon counties, including this coming week. Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said Friday that the state will receive 13,000 doses this week bound for 133 different pharmacies. Further details have not yet been announced.

5. The vaccines are safe and effective, though mild side effects are common.

Trials have shown that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are extremely effective, preventing COVID-19 illness in more than 94% of non-infected people after receiving two doses.

The vaccines are also extremely safe for the vast majority of people who receive them. Side effects are normal after receiving the vaccine, including pain and swelling at the site of the site of the injection, with fever, chills, fatigue and headaches all possible as well. Studies have shown that most people will only have mild or moderate cases, and that severe side effects are rare.

To reduce pain in your arm, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth at the site of the injection, or exercise your arm, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. It’s OK to take over-the-counter pain medications to relieve other symptoms, but DO NOT take it before the injection (unless advised by your doctor), as the medication could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine, the AARP warned Friday.

By 

The original article can be found here.

How COVID-19 is Re-shaping Health Benefits in 2021

FamilyThe challenges of 2020 have sharpened our focus on health as never before. From the daunting COVID-19 pandemic to the destructive wildfire season, Oregon businesses and their employees have been tested in their capacity to thrive. Even before the pandemic, the health care experience could be overwhelming. Now it’s even harder to decide when and where to get care – while still managing costs. With the resurgence of COVID-19 and winter ahead, in-person care will be more challenging than ever. The impact of months of anxiety and isolation continues to make mental health an even greater concern. There’s no better time for a new solution to provide Oregonians tools and support to manage their health and well-being.

Simplifying health care’s complexity

The realities of our complex health care system have impacted so many employees and their families. It is particularly difficult for those who are responsible for managing the care of others, perhaps tending to the needs of an older family member or someone with a challenging health condition. There is considerable self-education required – learning about specific health issues, assessing treatment options and keeping track of prescriptions. It is common to need a variety of tools such as spreadsheets to track deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs and complex calendars for appointments with multiple providers.

Journi is a health care company based in Oregon that is making the total health care experience better. Journi brings together self-service tools, clinical expertise and human support to help manage a family’s health care needs – all in one place. In addition to digital tools, Journi Care Guides are ready to answer your health care questions and to help with everything from researching drug costs to scheduling appointments with the right provider for you.

“It’s why I chose to work for Journi,” says Coleen Carey, vice president of sales and marketing. “Journi relieves some of the hassle of managing our health care so I can focus more on my work and my family.” Carey adds, “I understand the realities of navigating a complex health care system as I manage care for my 14 year old daughter who experiences disability.” Like many, Carey is a part of the ‘sandwich generation,’ caring for both parent and child. “Journi helps me manage our health history, providers, medications and more in one place to keep things organized in a system that can seem overwhelming.”

Addressing health care access in a mobile-first world

A digital approach has become key to helping employees get the most from their health benefits, especially during the pandemic. They are accustomed to using apps to pay bills, deposit checks, and buy groceries right from their phones. In fact, they have readily embraced telehealth during the pandemic for doctor visits and mental and behavioral health support. It’s a trend expected to keep growing. In May 2020, McKinsey found that 76 percent of consumers say they will likely use telehealth going forward.

Available as a mobile app and connected to employer-sponsored health insurance, Journi provides convenient self-service tools and real-time access to clinical experts with concierge support that meets employees where they are in their health care needs continuum – all in a one-stop solution.

Making the human connection

Employees expect a digital experience to provide self-service convenience on-demand. Journi goes a step further, offering Care Guides who can connect the dots of health care. These support specialists can help with frustrating and often time-consuming tasks, such as finding in-network doctors and scheduling appointments or resolving questions about billing. If needed, they can also connect employees with a nurse or health coach via video, phone or email. It’s like having a personal health care assistant on call.

A healthier, more productive workforce in 2021

This year has taught us hard lessons: We’ve learned that health care innovation is no longer just “nice to have,” but critical to business success. And offering benefits for the whole person is the first step in meeting the day-to-day health needs of employees, families and communities. With comprehensive digital solutions like Journi, employees will be more engaged in their health care – boosting productivity and reducing costs for employers. And after the year we’ve had, that’s good news for all Oregonians.

The source of this article can be found here.

After a COVID Year, the Housing Market Continues to Favor the Seller

by Keely McCormick and KVAL.com Staff

LANE COUNTY, Ore. — Heading into the new year, the housing market continues to see low supply and high demand, and like many aspects of life in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic was a factor.

Inventory is extremely tight right now and is expected to stay that way throughout 2021. We spoke to one woman who just went through the home buying process, and she said she was lucky to find one.

“During the wildfires, the landlords decided to sell and they didn’t give us much time,” said Samora Walker, a recent home buyer.

Anya Samora Walker and her family had to find a home to buy in 6 short weeks, which is hard to do in this housing market.

“It’s been challenging, I have friends that have been looking for 2 years that haven’t found what fits there needs because houses are going thousands over the asking price,” Walker said.

And those prices will continue rising in the new year.

“It’s so competitive that you’ll get 5 to 10 offers on any given home and people just driving that price up,” said Robert Grand, the CEO of Grand Real Estate Investments.

Inventory initially dropped when the pandemic hit because people started to stay home rather than sell their homes, so when we’re used to seeing an influx of homes for sale in spring. 2020 didn’t have that.

This big new development is not a common site in Lane County. The reason for the high home prices is because of low inventory and limited land to build on.

“Here in Lane County and other parts of Oregon, there’s a lot of terrain and stuff like that so it’s not as easy to sprawl out,” said Grand.

But the demand for homes here is still high, as an influx of people are wanting to come live in Oregon.

Homes here are only on the market for an average of 33 days, but that depends on the home. Grand said an entry-level house priced around $350,000 may be on the market for only 4 to 5 days.

The median sale price for a home in Lane County increased 13.6 percent from 2019 to 2020. Grand said he’s expecting to see a similar trend in 2021.

Now the next big question is if we will see a lot of foreclosures because of the pandemic’s effect on the economy.

Even if we do see that happen, Grand said it would take a major influx to shift the housing market in the new year.

The source of the article can be found here.

The Growth of Coffee Shops in Oregon

5fdcfca3eae89.image Coffee shops throughout Oregon provide customers with their daily coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, and other drinks that help wake them up in the morning and keep them awake throughout the day.

According to the National Coffee Association of the USA (NCA), which has tracked coffee consumption through annual surveys since 1950, 83% of Americans 18 years and older say they drink coffee and 64% drink it daily.

With such a large majority of Americans drinking coffee, it’s no surprise to find several coffee establishments in cities throughout the state, and sometimes multiple shops on the same block.

Coffee shops, however, provide customers with more than a latte or mocha. Coffee shops are places where people typically meet with a business partner or old friend, access public WiFi, listen to an open-mic session, study for an exam, or read a book. Thus, coffee establishments provide a gathering place and potential economic benefits greater than the price of a vanilla latte.

Growth through 2019, uncertainty ahead

Employment and wage data are classified according to the North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS, and coffee shops and stands are classified in the snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars industry. This industry includes other establishments serving items such as donuts, pretzels, ice cream, and frozen yogurt. In 2019, there were 1,575 establishments in this category with an annual average employment of 16,131.

About half of these establishments were located in the Portland metro area (i.e., Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill counties). While 2020 annual employment data is not yet available, the number of establishments dropped to an average 1,465 and employment dropped to 12,300 over of the months of April, May, and June 2020 as businesses struggled due to COVID-19 related business restrictions.

Though snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars is a small industry, comprising less than 1% of total statewide employment, it has seen consistent growth from 2010 through 2019. Growth in both the number of establishments and employment in the industry has outpaced the average rate of growth for all industries. From 2001 to 2019, the industry’s employment more than doubled in Oregon, whereas total employment for all industries increased by 22%. Similarly, the number of establishments increased by 118% compared with 56% for all industries. Growth at snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars has also outpaced the larger food services and drinking places industry. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted industry growth in this sector, with second quarter 2020 employment levels 24% below levels during the same period in 2019 at 12,300.

Despite social distancing-related limitations on where we can drink coffee, our appetite for the drink has not been curbed by the pandemic. According to the National Coffee Association of the USA, six out of 10 Americans are still drinking coffee daily. Where we are drinking, however, has changed slightly, with 20% fewer Americans drinking coffee away from home.

Oregonians not only love drinking coffee; we love roasting it too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oregon has the second highest number of coffee and tea manufacturing establishments in the nation after California and the second highest location quotient for average annual employment in the sector after Hawaii. Though some coffeehouses roast their own beans, there are several coffee roasters throughout the state from Portland down to Ashland, and east in Sisters, Bend, and Pendleton.

The coffee and tea manufacturing industry in the state steadily increased from nine business units employing 440 individuals in 2001 to 82 units employing 1,159 in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of coffee and tea manufacturing establishments dropped slightly to 80 in second quarter 2020. Employment in the sector dropped by 13% compared with second quarter 2019 to 1,002 jobs.

Workers and wages

The average annual wage for employees in the snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars industry in 2019 was $19,463, which was significantly lower than the statewide all-industry average of $55,019. It’s probably no surprise that workers in the industry earn lower wages as the pay scale for many jobs, such as baristas, often begins at minimum wage and many employees work part-time schedules. However, workers in the industry, especially younger workers, can obtain other benefits, specifically work experience. Compared with other industries, coffee shops tend to employ a larger share of younger workers.

Workforce age data for just the snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars industry is not available, but it is for the larger food services and drinking places sub-sector. In 2019, 14 to 24 year olds comprised approximately 30% of the food services and drinking places workforce compared with 11% for the total workforce. These younger workers in the industry can learn skills and gain valuable work experience that will allow them to be successful in other occupations. For instance, they can learn how to work in a fast-paced environment, receive payments, provide customer service, and acquire “soft” skills such as showing up to work on time, working in a team, and communicating with customers.

Working in the manufacturing side of the coffee industry may provide a much higher wage than working at a coffee shop. The average annual pay in the coffee and tea manufacturing industry in 2019 was $45,205, which is more than twice than the average for coffee shops, but lower than the all-industry average of $55,019.

Summary

Coffee shops, as well as coffee roasters, are small but have grown steadily through 2019. Despite COVID-19-related losses in 2020, employment in these sectors is likely to bounce back once social-distancing-related measures are lifted and coffee shops once again offer an atmosphere conducive to meeting with co-workers, business partners, or friends.

Sarah Cunningham is an economist with the Oregon Employment Department. She may be reached at 503-871-0046.

First COVID-19 Vaccines Have Landed in Oregon

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Trucks carrying the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine departs Pfizer Global Supply plant in Portage, Michigan on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (Joel Bissell | MLive.com) Joel Bissell | MLive.com

The first shipments of the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine have arrived in Oregon, although officials don’t expect to begin inoculating any residents Monday.

The shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were expected to arrive at 10:30 a.m. Monday but instead arrived by about 7 a.m., according to the Oregon Health Authority. A Legacy Health facility in Northeast Portland and Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin received the first two 975-dose shipments.

It’s not immediately clear when the first vaccinations will begin, although an agency spokesperson suggested it may be Wednesday.

Frontline healthcare workers will be the first to start receiving the vaccine, followed by residents of nursing homes beginning next week. They will need a second dose three weeks later in order for the vaccine to offer its full protection. The vaccine is estimated to be about 95% effective.

“In recent weeks, as COVID-19 vaccines reached the final stages of approval, I have said time and again that hope is on the way. Today, I can tell you that help is here,” said Gov. Kate Brown, in a news release. “The first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Oregon, the first of many that will be distributed across the state.”

“We are in the middle of some of the hardest days of this pandemic,” Brown continued. “Our hospitals are stretched to capacity, and too many families are losing loved ones just as we enter the holiday season. So many Oregonians have suffered and sacrificed in the last ten months. But starting this week, and each week following –– as vaccines become more widely available –– we will begin gaining ground again in our fight against this disease.”

Legacy, the first healthcare group to receive the vaccine, said it had not yet determined when it would start vaccinating people against COVID-19. Legacy has two freezers on hand and expects two additional storage units to arrive Tuesday.

Among other hospitals that will soon receive shipments: Kaiser Permanente, which has two hospitals in the Portland area, will receive 975 doses Tuesday and plans to begin vaccinations Friday at its Sunnyside and Westside Medical Center. The healthcare organization has a freezer in Washington and Oregon to store the vaccines.

Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, along the Oregon-Idaho border, also will receive 975 dose shipments Tuesday.

In all, Oregon is expected to receive 35,100 doses this week. More than 24,375 of those doses are going to hospitals and health systems. The other 10,725 doses will go to nursing homes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Oregon to choose the first sites to receive the vaccine, and the system of distribution is being monitored, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Across the country on Monday, healthcare workers began receiving immunizations. Among them, a critical care nurse in New York and workers at a medical center in Ohio.

On Sunday, a scientific review panel for Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada reviewed the data on the Pfizer vaccine and determined it was “safe and efficacious.”

Last week, a U.S. panel of scientists reviewed trial data and gave the vaccine its stamp of approval. The federal Food and Drug Administration on Friday granted the vaccine an emergency use authorization for people ages 16 and older. The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, said Sunday he recommends the vaccine.

By the end of December, Oregon could receive between a total of 197,500 and 228,400 doses of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, according to the Oregon Health Authority and the governor’s office.

Brown said the state will “work to ensure” groups disproportionately effected by COVID-19 — including Black, Latino and tribal communities — will have “equitable access to vaccination.”

There are more than 4.2 million residents statewide — and estimates of when everyone who wants a vaccine gets one range from summer to fall. It’s unknown precisely when children younger than 16 will get the OK to be inoculated. Scientists say more study is needed before giving the vaccine to younger children.

After healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facility, essential workers will be next in line to get inoculated. But the state has yet to decide who will be defined as an essential worker and what order those workers will be vaccinated in within that group.

After that, people with underlying conditions that put them at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19 and people older than 65 will be given vaccinations.

It will likely be sometime in the spring before the general population’s turn in line comes up.

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, urged Oregonians to continue to wear masks, avoid gatherings and take other public health safety precautions because vaccinations are still months away for most Oregonians.

“The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel, but we will be in this tunnel for several months,” he said in a news release. “We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing to help our friends, neighbors and ourselves stay safe.”

Coronavirus in Oregon: Latest news | Live map tracker | Text alerts | Newsletter

— Aimee Green; agreen@oregonian.com; @o_aimee

— Andrew Theen; atheen@oregonian.com; 503-294-4026; @andrewtheen

Breaking Down the November 2020 Market Action for PDX Metro

 

The recently released November 2020 Market Action Report for the Portland Metro area held few surprises for those currently looking to purchase a home in Portland or one of its surrounding suburbs. In fact, it reinforced what we already know: inventory is extremely low, while the average and median sale prices of homes are continuing to slightly rise based on the amount of competition out there.

It doesn’t help that the amount of new listings took a drastic dip of 36.3% from October, though they were up 5.7% from November 2019. One might speculate that perhaps this was impacted by the election and COVID, or maybe simply a traditional holiday slow down, but I don’t think this is necessarily the case.

To get a better grasp, let’s look at some of the other metrics in play. Similar to  active listings, the amount of pending listings also dropped in November, down 20.1 percent from October, and even the amount of closed listings decreased 13%, though closed sales were up 25.3% from November of 2019.

What also saw an increase? The year to date average sale price, which has risen from $459,300 up to $492,000. Similarly, the average median home price has increased from $410,000 up to $438,000.

November 2020 logged the lowest amount of inventory recorded in RMLS history: 1 month. This means that if all the homes that were currently on the market were to be gobbled up by everyone looking to buy a home out in the PDX Metro Area, it would take one month for all of the homes to be gone. This is severe, especially considering that in November 2019 there was 2.4 months worth of inventory, and 2.8 in November 2018. That is an additional 1.4 months worth of inventory gone.

So why are we seeing the numbers that we are? Though the initial pause we had in real estate at the beginning of the pandemic contributed to creating a pent up demand for housing, the demand has yet to abate. In fact, with many remaining at home to work or oversee distance learning, there has been an increase in buyers looking for homes with more room. Low mortgage rates have also given an extra push to those on the fence, edging them into the buying pool. Add these factors to the low inventory we normally see at this time of year plus the fear from potential sellers of not finding a place to move to once their home goes pending, and you have an anemic market.

It will be interesting to see what January brings, whether the amount of homes to come to the market will significantly rise or not. I believe that while we will see more sellers come to the market, there will still be a noticeable deficit between what is available and the amount of Buyers still looking.

Looking for advice on how to make your offer irresistible to Sellers and stand out from the crowd? Or are you considering selling your home but are uncertain about the best way to do so in this competitive market? Check out the About page on Beckspacnw.com for ways to contact me to schedule a consultation today!Market Action (3)