Homeless Rental Assistance Program in Salem helps ‘hardest to house’ get into a home

Image: KPTV

There’s a new program in Salem that’s helping homeless people get off the streets.

While that kind of transition can be tough, the first step is to get them into their own place.

The Salem Housing Authority’s Homeless Rental Assistance Program has a goal of getting 100 people off the streets by July, which will mark the program’s first anniversary. Workers are focused on the “hardest to house,” and getting those people into a home.

Joan Tomlinson said her life was hanging by a thread, after more than five years on the streets.

Beyond Wallace Marine Park in Salem, deeper into the woods, Tomlinson lived next to dozens of other campers.

“I pretty much figured those were my last days,” she said. “I really didn’t think this day was going to come again.”

Tomlinson said she battled drug and alcohol addiction and escaped an abusive relationship. Salem Housing Authority staff then offered her a way out with a new home.

At first she was skeptical, then she became among the first to get help from Salem’s Rental Assistance Program.

The program provides a 12-month rental, free of charge. Salem Housing Authority staff then help with things like finding a job and receiving medical treatment.

“It was a shell shock, and I’m still kind of getting acclimated to having a place,” Tomlinson said. “To be able to lock a door, not zip up a tent, and worry about things when I’m gone.”

The Homeless Rental Assistance Program has 114 people enrolled, with 60 people now in homes. When they graduate, they will receive a voucher for affordable housing to ideally have their own home for good.

For more, go to salemhousingor.com.

Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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