As a state, Oregon has the 4th highest rate of per capita homelessness in the U.S, and 30% of the states’ homelessness is found in our city of Portland. In addition, 37% of Portland’s homeless population are women. Based on recent counts, we’ve actually seen a growing percentage of women in the homeless population compared to men. Between 2015-2017 there was a 14% increase in the number of homeless women. But only a 6% increase in the total homeless population.
The biggest contributors to women experiencing homelessness are domestic violence and mental illness. Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among women. And in general, 30-35% of those experiencing homelessness have mental illnesses. That number is closer to 75-80% for homeless women specifically.
Experiencing mental illness and domestic violence make a woman incredibly susceptible to experiencing homelessness. In general, people that experience mental illness are at a much greater risk of experiencing homelessness than those that don’t because they’re much more susceptible to the three main factors that can lead to homelessness: poverty, disaffiliation, and personal vulnerability. Often times, because of their mental illness, they often lack the capacity to sustain employment and have little income. And because of the incredibly high rates of women that experience domestic abuse and other sexual violence, women are the largest single group of people affected by PTSD.
According to one of our partners, Portland Rescue Mission, it’s very common for a woman who’s experienced domestic violence to leave her home and all of her belongings behind in order to find safety elsewhere. If she doesn’t have family or a steady income already, she can easily end up on the street.
Once a woman that’s experienced abuse or experiences a mental illness ends up homeless, the stress of experiencing homelessness can make depression, anxiety, fear, sleeplessness and substance abuse much worse... and make finding and maintaining employment nearly impossible. One study shows that within 48 hours on the streets a woman is sexually assaulted. Without strategic support, this pattern leaves women stuck in a cycle of unemployment, at risk of more trauma and abuse, and on the streets.
At Ground Up we know that there are already so many barriers and levels of discrimination that women face in the workplace, and that those barriers become even more challenging for women living on the economic margins. In a study performed by the National Partnership for Women & Families, three things are mentioned as the biggest barriers to employment facing low-income women: lack of adequate child care, lack of transportation to work, and the lack of skills or education for a particular job.
Ground Up aims to help women face these barriers one by one.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of Ground Up PDX is to remove employment barriers for women overcoming adversity by providing job training and mentorship through a social enterprise that produces and distributes a unique product line of healthy nut butters on a local and national level.
Be a force of positive change for women of all backgrounds through the sale of healthy and delicious food products.
COMMUNITY Creating a safe space and connecting people with our mission
POSITIVITY: Force of encouragement and hope
AUTHENTICITY: Open and transparent culture
QUALITY: Commitment to excellence and optimal health
DELIGHT: Creating a fun and unique experience
DIGNITY: Valuing the individual and believing in everyone’s self-worth