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City Club of Eugene: Collaborating on Permanent Housing Solutions

CC Jan 28
City Club of Eugene
A questioner addresses panelists Debi Farr, Michelle Hankes, Sarai Johnson, and Jacob Farr at the City Club of Eugene's Jan.28, 2022 program.

Program date: Jan. 28, 2022

Air date: Jan. 31, 2022

From The City Club of Eugene:

Coordination of several kinds of community resources is a recurring challenge in supporting people who need affordable, safe, and permanent housing. Sometimes special services are required to allow them to live as independently as possible. Abundant evidence shows that effective support increases stability and reduces long-range costs for all concerned. But providers are often funded by sources with restrictions on how money can be spent, and sometimes their individual missions are defined too narrowly to offer all the help needed. Working together is the answer.

In this program, representatives from several local agencies—public and private—describe how they collaborate in projects that provide both shelter and services to the region’s most vulnerable people. Trillium Community Health Plan is a Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) that serves those who receive healthcare coverage under the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program. Trillium provides healthcare benefits and connects members to a network of healthcare providers for medical, dental, behavioral and mental health services. Homes for Good is Lane County’s housing agency. Its primary work is to create living communities for people who are experiencing homelessness, who have completed their prison sentences, and who have been displaced by wildfires. ShelterCare is a private, nonprofit human-services agency. It offers a range of housing and support services for individuals and families who are homeless, or on the verge of homelessness, with a focus on individuals living with mental illness. In addition, ShelterCare also offers shelter and case management for medically fragile, unhoused individuals. The City of Eugene and Lane County created the Joint Housing and Shelter Strategist position to coordinate the City and County efforts to respond more effectively to the crisis of homelessness.


Debi Farr is the Manager of Community Relations for Trillium Community Health Plan. She has extensive experience in Community and Government Relations with a demonstrated history of working with local organizations, including ShelterCare, to build effective partnerships. She is a former Oregon State Representative and a member of the Bethel School Board. She has been at Trillium Community Health Plan since 2012.

Jacob Fox is the Executive Director of Homes for Good. He has worked for three different housing authorities in numerous capacities, including resident services, property management, asset management, development, and executive management. He also worked for the City of Portland, where he directed investments in ending homelessness, promoting affordable home-ownership, and developing affordable housing.

Michelle Hankes took over the leadership of ShelterCare in January 2020 with nearly 30 years of experience in the social service sector, with a focus on disaster/emergency services, child and family services, and community infrastructure and resilience. Since joining ShelterCare, she has concentrated on establishing a new strategic plan for the agency, adapting services and systems to meet pandemic needs, growing a donor base to support ShelterCare programs, and advocating for a living wage for social service employees.

Sarai Johnson is the Joint Housing and Shelter Strategist for Lane County and City of Eugene. She has experience working in the nonprofit sector to help low-income families transition to permanent housing. As Strategist, she coordinates efforts among the city, county, and local service providers to avoid duplication of work on the shared goal of housing for everyone. Her assignment is to create a new path forward by working together – among government agencies and other service providers who help people who are unhoused. She believes we have the chance to build a completely new way to help our community grow and thrive.

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