Today more than 60% of American families are living paycheck to paycheck, with little or no financial reserves.  Most of these families are living with very low incomes and often without any sort of lifeline should they run into trouble.  An unexpected medical bill, disruption to employment, or flat tire can cause people to miss a rent payment leading to housing instability or homelessness.

These are the people Second Step Housing is here to serve.  We provide deeply affordable housing for people and families living with low incomes and those who are without housing. 

Once a family moves into one of our properties, we provide staff members to work with them to ensure they can remain stable in their new home.  We connect our residents with community resources and rental assistance, sometimes we pay for a crib for a new baby, a bus pass to help someone get to work, or a replacement social security card a person needs to complete a job application.  This is our commitment to our residents – we will do as much as we can to help them move their lives forward

Your donation is essential in providing this vital support to our residents.


This month we are participating in the Give More 24 annual day of giving. 

Now is a great time to make a donation to Second Step Housing – because of generous matching gifts provided by our partners, your donation will be matched 100%.

You can follow this link to make your donation now:

Thank you for your help – we could not do this important work without you!

My office is in one of our larger properties, and the windows look out onto an elementary school playground. Several years ago we installed a gate in the fence so that the children who live in this property could walk straight to school and play in the school yard whenever they want. This week the joyful sounds of kids playing at recess returned to my office.  Back to school.

Study after study has shown that growing up in a safe and stable home has positive long-term impacts on a child’s social, emotional, educational, and health outcomes. Kids that grow up in stable homes have fewer lifelong struggles than those growing up amidst housing instability and homelessness.

We believe that one of the greatest impacts we can have on our community is to provide safe and stable homes for children. Our residents deserve to live in stable homes and raise their kids in a safe and consistent environment.  

The last several properties Second Step has built or acquired have all included units specifically designated for homeless families with children.  Today, more than half of our residents are kids.

This work is vital to the health of children, families, and the future of our community.

Thank you for supporting Second Step Housing – we could not do it without you. 

Each night we provide housing for around 270 people. 

Our properties are separated into two basic categories: Transitional Housing (21 units) and Permanent Housing (96 units).

94% of our units are reserved for people earning less than 50% of the area median income, which for a family of four is $53,250.  Most of our households earn far less than this.  

70% of our units are reserved for homeless households.  The vast majority of these units are permanent, meaning the household can stay with us as long as they like.

Our goal is to help homeless and low-income families maintain a safe, permanent home.  Our key metric is housing stability, which we measure by the number of households that move out of our units each year.  This year our stability rate was 95% for all units (85% for our transitional units, and 98% for our permanent units).

We are meeting our mission to a very high degree.

  • For people who have been homeless this means not having to constantly worry about their safety or the safety of their children.
  • For working parents this means having a reliable home in which they can prepare for the workday and come home to in the evening.  It means a good night’s sleep and a place to prepare healthy meals, pack lunches, and help their kids with homework.
  • For kids this means being able to stay in the same schools, with the same teachers and friends.
  • For people living with disabilities this means having a safe place to set up exactly how they need it.  It means being able to access the same doctors and caregivers and build relationships that can help them thrive.

The other day I was driving to one of our properties to drop off some mail that had been sent to the wrong address.  It was about three o’clock and as I pulled into the driveway, I saw a long-time resident waiting in front of the building for her daughter to come home from school.  Now, this mother has walked her daughter to the bus stop every morning and waited for her to return from school every afternoon as long as I’ve worked at Second Step.  Like most of our residents, I don’t know this family very well – we say hello and chat from time to time, but the details of their lives are completely unknown to me; I only know that they are living with a low income like all of our residents, and were most likely homeless when they moved in.

The daughter is now a teenager and, by all appearances, seems to be doing well in school.  She’s at the age when a lot of kids start to feel a little embarrassed by their parents.  As she walked home from the bus stop and saw her mother waiting for her, the girl’s face expressed a mix of happiness with a tinge of embarrassment, a smile with a teeny bit of good-natured chagrin.  She was happy to see her mom, even if she didn’t want the other kids to see.  Mom, of course was beaming and waving, as usual, eager to hug her blushing daughter, walk inside, and talk about her day at school.  I smiled to myself and drove past just as they embraced.

This moment, to me, captures the power of a stable home

What will this child become?  Time will tell.  But we know that she, and over 100 kids just like her, will not have to endure the trauma and danger of homelessness while they live in our properties.  They get to experience the safety and peace that a stable home provides.  Their odds of living a long, healthy life and making meaningful contributions to our community increased dramatically on the day they moved in.  The impact of a stable home is hard to measure, it takes time, but we see it every day.

Thank you for caring for your neighbors.

Thank you for spreading goodwill.

And thank you for supporting Second Step Housing.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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?


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.

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