On behalf of Congregation Beth Israel, Rabbi Rachel L. Joseph,    welcomed a full house of Interfaith Alliance and Community members to the March 1 meeting of the Interfaith Alliance.

Rabbi Rachel advised that  Congregation Beth Israel was founded in 1858, when Oregon was still part of the Oregon Territory. It was the first Jewish congregation west of the Rockies and north of California.  The then new Congregation held religious services in Burke's Hall, which was located above a livery stable located on First Avenue.

The first Synagogue, located on SW Fifth and Oak streets, was built in 1859. After two succeeding Synagogues, they have worshiped beneath their current Byzantine Dome on SW 17th & Flanders for 88 years.

Rabbi Rachel advised that Congregation   Beth Israel is a Reform Judaism congregation devoted to “Good works,  Chassidic Thought, Light,  and Healing,”  their goal  to build community and bring healing to a broken world.

Sally Rosen introduced guest speaker, Brandi  Tuck, Executive Director of Portland Homeless Family Solutions

 Brandi grew up in Coral Springs, FL and attended the University of Florida, where she earned degrees in political science, philosophy, and non-profit organization. In 2005, Brandi moved to Portland and began work  at the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force conducting an anti-hunger public policy and outreach for federal nutrition programs.

In 2007, Brandi founded Portland Homeless Family Solutions and has worked as the Executive Director ever since.  Brandi received the 2009 Skidmore Prize for Nonprofit Service, the 2010 Bank of America Local Hero Award for her leadership in social services and the 2013 WVDO Crystal Award for Executive Fund Raising.

Brandi declared:  “Homelessness is not normal.”  She recalled that  the 1940  New Deal provided $89 Billion for a Federal Housing Authority  to support affordable  housing for the white, but not black community.

From the 1940-80’s, housing funds were defunded to $20 billion.  Public housing fell into disrepair and was torn down.  At the same time mental health facilities were closed and patients were released out into the streets without resources.  As the housing crisis grew, waiting time to get housing assistance grew.

Wages have stagnated while the cost of food, health, transportation, and rents have risen.  Child care averages about $900 per month.

After World War II, the GI Bill supported with middle class with education and housing assistance.  Wealth was accumulated and passed down to the next generation.  Now the passage of wealth  has slowed to a trickle.  Students encumbered with debt, have limited resources to purchase homes.

As rents rise, more people face evictions. As more and more people are forced out of their housing,   shelters have become the resort of the homeless. Tent cities arise.  Tiny houses spring up on  vacant lots.  The city allocates more money for multiple housing, but it is never enough because wages are never enough to cover the rising cost of rents and living.

Our mission is to empower homeless families with children to get back into housing - and stay there.  We take people “as they are”, building relationships, understanding that they may be trauma affected by their life experiences.

PHFS assists families experiencing homelessness move back into housing as quickly as possible. They provide rent assistance and case management for 6-12 months to help families keep their housing long-term.


They help families with a 72-hour eviction notice get to keep their housing. They pay security deposits, moving costs, or back rent for families so they never have to experience homelessness with their children.

They provide families a safe, warm place to sleep every night of the year.   – private sleeping spaces, food, showers, laundry, computers, and clothing. PHFS relies on a team of over 800 volunteers to help provide supportive, compassionate services

Families are enabled to take evidence-based classes to learn new skills they can use to get and keep housing. Classes include Incredible Years Parenting, Rent Well Tenant Education, and the ARISE Life Skills

PHFs goal is to bring “everyone to the table” to find solutions for the homeless in Portland . Their goal is to find “long term, sustainable” solutions.

When freezing temperatures struck in December of 2017, Portland Homeless Family Solutions partnered with Congregation Beth Israel to provide night shelter for 75 family members through April 30, 2018.