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How One Interior Designer Is Helping The Homeless With Her One Percent Project

Nonprofits need a profit, and a Portland interior designer has found a subtle and effective way to fund projects that seek to alleviate Oregon’s homeless epidemic.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

A shortened equivalent of when grocery stores ask shoppers to round up and turn over the surplus to charity, she adds a 1% line item to each customer bill as a way to make money for nonprofits: and other interior designers in the state have joined her.

Despite having one of the highest state tax burdens in the nation, Oregon struggles with homelessness rates.

Seeking to tap into the familiarity of the real estate and home furnishings industry with the problem, Jessica Helgerson initiated the One percent project and found that among the 25 clients of his interior design business, only one was excluded from the voluntary 1% fee.

“When you work with people who can afford an interior designer, that might not be a lot of money for them,” Helgerson explains to Fast company. “That has really created a lot of excitement; people are excited to be a part of it. “

Launched in 2019, the One Percent Project is now generating revenue for nine Portland and Oregon state organizations working to alleviate homelessness, including Community warehouse“A kind of Salvation Army that allows people emerging from homelessness to shop for free.”

The grant they have received through the One Percent Project so far has come to a whopping $ 150,000, which Community Warehouse used to purchase a new truck for delivery.

Doing their part

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

How did such a big fundraiser happen? In 2019, more than a dozen inland-related businesses in the Pacific Northwest joined the project, and that number is only increasing.

“It was important that it wasn’t just about interior design,” Helgerson said. But let it be all aspects of the home world. Real estate agents, architects, plumbing, contractors, supply locations. It’s a very wide world. “

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Another grant recipient that benefited from the increased participation was Portland Homeless Family Solutions, a shelter and support center that helps homeless people stay safe and positive as they search for long-term housing.

The one percent project provided $ 40,000 grant to fund the project and more than 800 free hours of interior design work. Using trauma-based design concepts, the remodeled space is based on safety, accessibility, flexibility, connectivity, inclusion, health, and healing.

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The One Percent Project finds that the 1% line-up makes it easy for businesses to add it to their operations without expanding software or staff, while the association between the housing industry and the homeless epidemic makes sense for clients, similarly, perhaps, to the obviousness of an airline buying carbon offsets, or a paper company planting trees.

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