Central City Concern (CCC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency serving single adults and families in the Portland metro area who are impacted by homelessness, poverty and addictions. Founded in 1979, the agency has developed a comprehensive continuum of affordable housing options integrated with direct social services including healthcare, recovery and employment. CCC currently has a staff of 800+, an annual operating budget of $60 million and serves more than 13,000 individuals annually.
In the early 1970s Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood was populated largely by older men living in shabby, crime-ridden single room occupancy (SRO) buildings. The rent was cheap, the drug of choice was alcohol and Portland’s street inebriate problem was one of the worst in the nation. In 1979, in response to this growing problem, the City of Portland and Multnomah County together created the Burnside Consortium (now known as Central City Concern) to administer a National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) Public Inebriate grant.
CCC’s initial work involved alcohol recovery treatment as well as affordable housing management and rehabilitation. Early on, it was clear to CCC leaders that safe housing was of paramount importance to those in recovery and to the neighborhood at large. CCC’s work in renovating urban, SRO housing became a standard for other nonprofit housing organizations and attracted national attention.
In the 1980s, “recovery” extended to those addicted to crack cocaine and heroin and CCC adapted its programs. Its portfolio of affordable housing units increased and it began offering alcohol and drug free housing to support those in recovery as well as their families. To further support clients’ transformations to full self sufficiency, CCC added employment training and work opportunity program in the early 1990s.