A Nonprofit That Houses Domestic Violence Survivors Saw Its Modest Funding Request Rebuffed

“Their money is going somewhere, but not to agencies that can make a difference right now.”

Bri Condon (Mick Hangland-Skill)

Troutdale Mayor Randy Lauer has plenty of reasons to be fed up with the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

But Lauer has it wrong on one front: Some of the Portland nonprofits he fears are soaking up all of Metro’s homeless services tax money are just as upset with the Joint Office as he is.

Nonprofit leaders are mostly reluctant to speak on the record because they fear angering the Joint Office. But not Bri Condon, who runs Bradley Angle House, a nonprofit that serves women fleeing domestic violence.

Bradley Angle has been around for nearly half a century and has long depended on government contracts for much of its budget ($3.7 million last year), so the organization has experience dealing with bureaucrats.

Condon approached the Joint Office last November with a modest request for additional ongoing funding for apartments to house survivors while they rebuilt their lives: $25,000 for two units for a year, or $144,000 for four units and one additional staff member to support them.

Condon says she emailed her contact at the Joint Office twice, and when she got not even a courtesy no, she escalated by taking her third request to her contact’s boss.

“They forced me into a position where I have to be professionally obnoxious to get more people housed—people who are women of color fleeing violence,” Condon says.

Homeless domestic violence survivors, of course, are exactly the kind of people voters wanted to help when they approved the Metro homeless tax. But when Condon got an answer Feb. 27, nearly three months after her original inquiry, it was no.

“Currently we don’t have additional ongoing funds available to program, but we are certainly keeping this expansion in mind for future opportunities,” the Joint Office told her in an email.

Joint Office spokesman Denis Theriault says staff was responsive to Bradley Angle, which he calls “a critically important service in our community and a valued partner,” but the nonprofit’s request for ongoing funding came in after the office’s budget had been set for the year. “Unfortunately, there is no pool of unbudgeted or unallocated ongoing funding that we could quickly deploy.”

But Condon says when she read in WW late last month that the county had spent only 22% of its homelessness budget through the first six months of the year but nonetheless said it had no money available to house women fleeing domestic violence, she was flabbergasted.

“Their money is going somewhere,” she says, “but not to agencies that can make a difference right now.”

Condon says the Joint Office’s claims that it’s doing better, when budget numbers show it’s not, put her in mind of stacking firewood.

“If you have a failed stack of wood and you just peel off the top layer, it’s going to fall down again,” Condon says. “The only way to fix the stack is to strip down to the ground. But at the Joint Office, we are just watching politicians repeatedly announce a new direction and bring in a new director—but they don’t fix the stack. If you just take off the top layer, it’s going to fail all over again.”

Related: East county cities want some of the cash the Joint Office of Homeless Services can’t spend.

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