The One Percent Project rounds up interior design fees to fight homele

“The one %” is most frequently used as a pejorative, shorthand for elite, out-of-touch vultures who prey on the working class. However a brand new initiative from a Portland, Oregon, interior designer is taking that moniker and flipping it on its head.

The One Percent Project, launched by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, asks shoppers to put 1% of their bill complete towards addressing homelessness. This line merchandise, which is completely elective, will seem on their month-to-month invoices as a kind of “voluntary tax” that the agency likens to grocery shops asking you to spherical up.

There are a selection of initiatives within the design neighborhood which can be geared toward offering free or cheap design companies to organizations that fight homelessness. However a lot of the time what organizations really want is money that frees them from having to continually fundraise. The One Percent Project goals to fill in that hole.

[Photo: courtesy Jessica Helgerson Interior Design]

When JHID contacted shoppers to allow them to know this cost could be added to January’s invoices, solely considered one of 25 shoppers opted out. “One % of our invoices is lower than $100 in a number of circumstances,” says JHID managing director Kate Sullivan. “Whenever you’re working with individuals who can afford an interior designer, that may not be some huge cash to them. That has actually fostered a number of enthusiasm; persons are excited they are often a part of it.”


Helgerson formally launched the initiative in 2019, after a chat she gave at Design Week Portland. The early iteration, which was extra advert hoc, requested people companies to donate 1% of their revenue or income to fight homelessness. Within the first yr and a half, greater than a dozen companies and people contributed, and the undertaking was in a position to donate $195,000 in unrestricted grants to three Portland organizations.

Logistically, the funds are routed to the Oregon Neighborhood Basis, which acts as a kind of clearinghouse, vetting nonprofits and managing and distributing the funds. OCF expenses a payment, which JHID covers, which means 100% of the donations by means of the One Percent Project go to organizations on the bottom.

[Photo: courtesy Jessica Helgerson Interior Design]

To this point, that’s meant $5,000 to Street Roots, after final summer time’s devastating wildfires made it unimaginable for the alt weekly to be distributed outdoors. The funds had been in a position to function a stopgap for the folks experiencing homelessness who promote the paper. A much bigger grant of $150,000 went to Community Warehouse, a furnishings warehouse that lets folks transitioning out of homelessless store without cost. The funds allowed them to buy a second van to use for deliveries. And $40,000 went to Portland Homeless Family Solutions, to assist fund a brand new everlasting shelter, which Helgerson did the interior design work for professional bono.

Helgerson’s dedication to preventing homelessness grew out of her work with PHFS, which helps households transitioning out of homelessness. “Three minutes into the assembly, I used to be weeping,” Helgerson says. Her involvement with PHFS led her to different native organizations working with folks experiencing homelessness, which has reached disaster ranges in Portland. “In every case it was like, they’re superb and the necessity is a lot larger,” she says. “I do know that there’s loads of cash on the market. I questioned if I might construct one thing that would assist help them [so they wouldn’t] have to fundraise for each single penny.”

However regardless that the preliminary grants had been substantial, “the entire enterprise mannequin was me attempting to hustle and beg,” Helgerson says. “It wasn’t sustainable.” When Sullivan joined JHID a yr in the past, she proposed making the undertaking extra explicitly linked to design and home-oriented companies. “In a method, I’m within the very proper line of labor and in one other method, it’s not the correct line,” says Helgerson, who has lived in Portland for over a decade and watched the unsheltered inhabitants develop concurrently she’s taken on larger and “fancier” tasks. This initiative “helps me reconcile [the two].” JHID is donating 1% of its internet revenue to OCF as effectively.

[Photo: courtesy Jessica Helgerson Interior Design]

JHID’s aim is to develop this undertaking far past its personal consumer base and to get different corporations that work in home-related companies to add a 1% line merchandise to their invoices as effectively. “It was essential that it not simply be interior design,” Helgerson says. “However that or not it’s all facets of the house world. Actual property brokers, architects, plumbing, contractors, provide locations. It’s a really broad world.” To this point, there’s an interior design agency in Seattle that’s already applied it, they usually’re working with three corporations in Portland and two in San Francisco and L.A. The want on the West Coast was particularly acute, as charges of homelessness had been greater than a lot of the nation even earlier than COVID-19 hit.

After Helgerson posted concerning the undertaking on Instagram final month, she says greater than 20 folks reached out saying they had been within the mannequin. “If they might every get 15 to 18 folks after which they might get 15 to 18 folks, we might make a distinction,” she says. “It’s one a part of a giant puzzle.”


OCF works with nonprofits throughout the nation, so donations will be focused to teams doing work in a selected space. The great thing about the One Percent Project’s mannequin is that there’s virtually no heavy lifting for firms that need to add the 1% line merchandise. Sullivan says she has been spending about 15% of her time speaking to different corporations concerning the initiative and getting issues set up on the again finish, however she estimates it’s about an hour of labor for firms that need to be a part of.

“We would like to cleared the path by way of individuals who personal companies or run companies to take into consideration the adjacencies by way of charitable giving,” Sullivan says. “Like with Toms giving sneakers to youngsters, or if there’s an airline that’s doing carbon offsetting, or prescribed drugs giving healthcare. What’s that adjoining factor that wants altering on this planet and the way can we give again? If each enterprise rallied the ability of their buyer base to do that, think about how a lot influence that 1% might have.”