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About Homelessness

How do you help a panhandler in Portland? Meet Rhea

Rhea tells her story.

Rhea tells her story.

Rhea’s been “flying a sign” for two years in east Portland. “I hadn’t done it in a long time,” she says. “I didn’t think I’d ever have to do it again, ya know?”

Some people’s signs tell lies to gain sympathy, but Rhea can’t make herself do that. “I just have to be honest about what I need. Coffee, something to eat, a hostel so I can get a shower or do laundry. Otherwise, I have a hard time standing out there.”

Rhea would love to have a home and a job again. “But I would never go to a job interview looking like this, all dirty,” she says. “Not having an address and a phone. It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s a vicious circle.”

On a good day, Rhea will make about $4 an hour, enough to cover her basics. “I have lots of regulars who help me. Even if they can’t afford to give me a dollar, they’ll stop and ask how I’m doing. That’s almost better than money.”

Read Shane’s story from our “Rescue Portland” Summer Newsletter [PDF].

DID YOU KNOW? At our Burnside Shelter, extended shelter for 1-6 weeks is available for up to 10 women (starting August 2015) to provide stability, meals and hygiene. Our three-month Connect Ministry for up to 16 women provides additional help with relational accountability and spiritual encouragement.


Here are six ways to help a person who is homeless:

Download your free copy of “5 Things A Homeless Person Could Use” along with instructions on how to pack a care kit: PortlandRescueMission.org/CareKit.