How did you hear about our organization?

My son, Brad Finegood, was on the Board of Directors of Second Step Housing.

What made you decide to engage?

When Brad was on the Board, a house was donated to Second Step Housing. In honor of Brad’s work on the Board, it was suggested that the house be named after Brad. Brad was very honored, but asked if the house could be named after his brother (my son), Gregg, who had died of an accidental drug overdose several years before at age 26. Gregg’s Place is a welcoming home to those in need.

Do you know someone who is personally affected by our mission and services?

I do not. However, me and my 5 siblings have always been blessed enough to have family members take us into their homes, when as children, our addict mother would disappear for a while, and we would be evicted from our house. Maybe that is one of the reasons I so admire the work that Second Step Housing does. There but for the grace of God go us!

Why do you continue to support our organization?

Not only do I passionately believe in the mission of Second Step Housing, I admire the excellent way that the organization is run. I know that every dollar that is donated will be spent wisely.

What’s your favorite thing about our organization?

Second Step Housing offers hope to those in their most difficult time and is changing and saving lives every single day!

What’s one thing you wish others knew about our organization?

Second Step Housing doesn’t only provide housing and other critical services to those who are in need, they SAVE LIVES!

Why did you decide to volunteer with Second Step?

In the nearly twenty-one years I have lived in Vancouver, I have been pleased to know many civic-minded people, dedicated to improving the lives of those around us.

My sister was serving on the board of directors a few years ago.  She suggested that I contact Tim Foley, the then-new executive director, to see if there might be a spot for me to serve.  I was very impressed with Second Step’s mission, and am grateful to have been offered the opportunity to serve the Vancouver/Clark County community in this way.  In the years since, my appreciation for our mission, and its execution has only grown. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

As with everybody on the board, I love knowing that we make a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens.  The positive energy of being around a table (virtually, for the time being) with other like-minded members is very rewarding.  

Board members are not often called upon to actually get dirty, cleaning up our housing units, or moving furniture.  But when I have had that opportunity, it’s fun to break a sweat with other volunteers. 

What is the hardest part of your job?

It is easy for those of us who have never faced homelessness to take for granted the things that come with a home; shelter, an address to help one move forward with job applications, or accessing other benefits.  

The hardest part for me is knowing that the needs in the community outstrip our ability to meet them.  When we are able to add new housing units, they are filled almost immediately.  I am apprehensive of what lay ahead, as programs set up to meet the COVID-19 emergency begin to lapse.  We intend to be there, and hope to be able to do more. 

What would you say to someone considering making a donation to Second Step?

When we look around our community, and see people experiencing homelessness, we may avert our gaze, or blame them for their own situation.  These feelings are understandable.  But when you see the changes in these people when they are able to obtain housing, I hope it casts the situation in another light, and motivates us to do something to effect a change, both in those individuals, and in our society.   

Your contribution to Second Step Housing is a great way to directly make this kind of difference.  

My favorite thing about Vancouver is…

The pace of life, the range of interesting, caring people.   And, of course, its proximity to the most beautiful hiking trails I have ever experienced, in the Columbia Gorge. 

What made you decide to engage with Second Step Housing as a board member?

Giving back through the form of service is something our community desperately needs more of. As Vancouver has grown, so has its wealth gap. We have the collective responsibility to support those less fortunate in our community, and Second Step Housing is actively making a difference. I decided to engage because I saw the great work SSH is doing, and wanted to support its efforts.

Do you know someone who is personally affected by our mission and services?

As a father, I’m thankful every day to be able to provide the basic needs that my children depend on to live healthy and happy lives. But I’m poignantly aware that too many in our community suffer from housing insecurity. Those who don’t have their basic needs met naturally miss out on more opportunity. And that is why we need more organizations like SSH.

Why do you continue to support Second Step?

Second Step Housing has a real and quantifiable impact. They provide services that no one else in our community provides, and they do it effectively and with compassion. Serving families and ensuring our children have access to safe and healthy housing is a mission everyone can get behind, and is just simply the right thing to do.

What’s your favorite thing about Second Step Housing?

My favorite thing about SSH is seeing how we’ve grown over the past few years and, in turn, how we’ve been able to further our mission and serve more people in need.

What’s one thing you wish others knew about Second Step?

How efficiently the organization operates, which means that every dollar contributed has that much more of a real and meaningful impact on our community. I’m proud to be part of an organization that makes the most of its funding and that has proven results. We will continue to expand the reach of our support and I encourage those thinking about giving to do so, knowing that it will make a tangible difference in the lives of those we serve.

How did you hear about Second Step Housing?

I first learned of Second Step when I was working as a Youth Employment Specialist in Clark County. What I remember most about my first interactions with Second Step was that they were always ready to jump in and try something new to support the housing needs of young people in our community. 

What made you decide to engage with Second Step as a board member?

The housing crisis in Clark County is growing. People experiencing being unhoused need clear paths to regaining one of their most important needs, and Second Step provides those pathways with case management support and financial resources that make housing possible. 

Do you know someone who is personally affected by our mission and services?

I have known several young adults who have had opportunities through Second Step; many would have not been able to complete their education (diploma/GED) without the housing support offered through Second Step. By receiving this support, it allowed these young adults to learn crucial skills related to working with landlords, maintaining their own spaces, and being good tenants, while also providing a space where they felt safe and could focus their energy on improving their education status and gaining meaningful employment opportunities. 

When did you become a donor to Second Step Housing?

The first thing I did on my first day at work with Second Step was to set up a recurring monthly donation.  I want our donors to know that I am with them and that I believe in this mission every bit as much as they do. 

Why did you decide to work at Second Step?

I had worked in nonprofits, mostly local, for about 15 years when I joined Second Step.  Really, I wanted to work in my community in a way that could have the most positive impact.  I think housing is fundamental to a person’s overall well-being – when housing is stable, all other aspects of an individual’s life can be addressed.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Showing up every day and knowing that I’m doing good.  It sounds simple, but the feeling I get from using my work life to do good things is really important to me.  I’m proud of it.

What is the hardest part of your job?

There is never a dull moment!  Each day brings a new and unexpected challenge.  We have to stay on our toes and make sure we have the bandwidth to respond to emergent issues. My Outlook calendar is a mere suggestion.

What would you say to someone considering making a donation to Second Step?

Please and thank you!  We put every dollar to its best and highest use – I truly mean that.  Every donation goes directly toward making our most vulnerable residents feel comfortable and stable in their home.  We make sure everyone has a comfortable bed, clean sheets, warm blankets, good towels, sturdy furniture, and everything else they need to settle into their home.  This is so important! 

How have you seen stable housing affect the lives of Second Step residents?

A few months ago I saw one of our senior residents that I hadn’t seen in a long time, about a year.  I didn’t recognize her at first.  A stable home allowed her to address a long list of unmet medical needs.  Her improved health literally changed her entire appearance. She had lost weight, she was walking taller, her hair and skin looked healthy, and she had some neglected dental work done.  She looked so happy and healthy!   

Cats or dogs?

Dogs all day! 

Are you a ‘local’ or did you move to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest, like everyone else?

I’ve been in Washington since 1998, so I’m almost local.  But I grew up in Iowa, so you got me. 

What are people most surprised to learn about you?

Most people don’t know that I served in the US Navy.  I have medals to prove it!

Beach or mountains?

Beach!

My favorite thing about Vancouver is…

Ample parking day or night.  And also, I guess I’ve been here long enough now that I do feel a sense of community.  In general, people are kind and in the nonprofit community in specific people are open to working together in innovative ways to help those in need.  I really feel that openness and I love it.

The biggest misconception about homelessness is…

That homeless people have simply made ‘bad life choices’. This attitude simply does not account for the environment a person was raised in, their mental and behavioral health challenges, and the systems of oppression that we know adversely impact specific groups of people.  Saying a homeless person has ‘made bad life choices’ is lazy and not accurate.

Will Damian Lillard bring a championship to Portland?  If ‘yes’, when?  If ‘no’, this interview is over.

Yes! 2023 – book it.

The perfect actor to play me in a bio-pic would be…

One of the lesser Baldwin brothers.  Is there a Patty Baldwin?  Less handsome and talented than the others, but funnier and a better cook.

What would you want people to know about Second Step that they might not know?

Second Step Housing is small but mighty.  We own 115 units of affordable housing in Vancouver and each night we house over 250 people.  That may not sound like a lot, but the impact on the people, families, and children that we house cannot be overstated.  Our impact far exceeds our footprint.

Greetings!


Second Step Housing recently wrapped up the fiscal year (June 30), which is a good time to reflect on how we’re doing. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we met our mission to a very high degree this year. Here are some numbers to help tell the story:

  • We are now housing more than 250 people each night, the most in our history.
  • Our occupancy rates are the highest they’ve ever been (99% in our permanent affordable homes, and nearly 80% in our transitional properties).
  • We finished the fiscal year ‘in the black‘ and have good momentum heading into the new fiscal year.
  • This year we added 9 new units, 8 of them for homeless families with children.
  • We also completed renovations and upgrades on nearly half of our units.
  • Our property reserves are fully funded and we are exploring additional property acquisitions.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, these remain trying and uncertain times for many of our residents. I am proud of the work we are doing to help our residents remain safe and stable in their homes.

Thank you for your support. We could not do this important work without you.

All the best,
Tim Foley, Executive Director

Today we begin moving residents into our newest affordable property in Vancouver.

Built by the Ginn Group, these new townhomes will provide a stable, permanent home for families that are escaping homelessness and have children.  Research continually shows that children growing up in stable environments experience better lifetime outcomes in health, education, and employment.  We make our entire community stronger when we help families in need.

Essential funding was provided by:

               The City of Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Fund

               Clark County’s HOME program

This property will be affordable to people in need for the next 40 years, likely longer.

And now our work begins – keeping this property safe and residents stable as long as they care to stay.

Thank you for your support.  We could not do this important work without you.

There is no doubt that since its founding systemic racism in America has been both a violent and an insidious force of oppression against Black people.  

There is no doubt that American public and private institutions are complicit in this dehumanizing oppression through both their practices and their deafening silence.

There is no doubt that the affordable housing sector in general and Second Step Housing in specific deserves some blame for decades of practices that have enabled systemic racism to continue, unchecked.

There is no doubt that now is the time for all American institutions to immediately implement anti-racist polices and to cease all remaining violent and insidious oppression of Black people.

There is no doubt that today we stand with our Black neighbors who all deserve justice for hundreds of years spent suffering racist injustice.

There is no doubt that today we stand with our Black neighbors who all deserve collective ownership in governing a rebuilt America that ensures safety, education, and opportunity for all.

There is no doubt that Second Step Housing is committed to helping accomplish this alongside our Black neighbors.

We all feel relieved when we get home. It is a feeling of peace, safety, comfort. For me, I can feel the tension leave my shoulders and back, happy to take off my shoes and spend time with my family. I know there will be hugs, laughter, music, and food. I am lucky to have such a warm home and I do not take it for granted.

Everyone deserves to feel this way.

One month from today, 30 families in our community will be welcomed into their new homes at The Meadows. These homes will be a place of respite and stability. And we built this property to last – it will provide affordable homes for very low-income people for decades to come.

We could not have done this without your support.

There is one last opportunity to leave your mark on this exceptional property.

We have reserved a small area, just outside the community room, for our donors to make a memorial gift for a loved one.

Please join me in purchasing a memorial brick at The Meadows:

https://www.fundraisingbrick.com/online-orders/themeadows/

Who has made you feel at home? Here is your chance to say thanks.

All my best,

Tim

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