Every night, more than
adults and children in the Portland metro region sleep outside or in a homeless shelter.
Thousands more are sleeping in their car, or doubled-up on friend’s couch.
Homelessness is Not a Choice
It can happen to anyone, anywhere — from Hillsboro to Gresham, from Oregon City to North Portland. A person or child living without a reliable place to sleep at night is at higher risk of health problems, violence, and death. It tears at the fabric of our community, and doesn’t reflect who we are as Oregonians. The regional homeless services measure passed in May 2020 will ensure a dedicated revenue stream to address homelessness in our region at the scale needed for the next ten years.
Homelessness & Housing Insecurity
People experiencing repeated spells of homelessness for more than a year. While chronic homelessness can be the most “visible” in a community, it represents only a small portion of all people experiencing homelessness.
People experiencing homelessness for less than a year. This represents the majority of people experiencing homelessness, which can often be “invisible” in a community because more people sleep in cars or on friends’ couches during this time.
People who are struggling to afford housing and are at a high risk of becoming homeless in the event of a financial emergency, such as a job loss, car accident or medical emergency. In the Portland region, 56,000 households are considered housing insecure.
What is driving homelessness in our region?
High rents are at the heart of the Portland metro region’s homeless crisis. Rising rental costs are outpacing incomes, making it difficult or impossible for workers and their families to afford rent on an ongoing basis.
In our region, even before the coronavirus pandemic, 56,000 families were a paycheck (or less) away from becoming homeless. Now due to COVID-19, for many of these people, the worst has happened: devastating personal situations, such as losing a job, an unexpected medical bill, or even needing car repair, could be forcing them out of their home and onto the streets.
High rents are the #1 reason for more severe homeless rates.
Nearly half of Americans could not come up with $400 in an emergency situation.
Federal Reserve: Report on Economic Wellbeing of U.S. Households in 2018
- Housing Underproduction in Oregon: Economic, Fiscal and Environmental Impacts of Enabling Transit-Oriented Smart Growth to Address Oregon’s Housing Affordability Challenge, 2018
- An Analysis of Homelessness & Affordable Housing: Multnomah County, 2018 (Portland State University)
- A Road Home: Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, Washington County, 2018
- Homelessness in the Portland Region: A Review of Trends, Causes, and the Outlook Ahead, 2018
- Tri-County Equitable Housing Strategy to Expand Supportive Housing for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness , 2019
- Homelessness in Oregon: A Review of Trends, Causes, and Policy Options, 2019
Oregon ranks #1 in the nation for a high rate of unsheltered families with children. Nearly 22,000 students were homeless in the 2017-18 school year — a record high for our state.
US Dept. Housing and Urban Development, 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report.
African Americans, Hispanics/Latinxs, and Native Americans are disproportionately represented among people experiencing homelessness. For instance, while African Americans make up 13% of the general population, they make up more than 40% of the homeless population.
Demographic Data Project: Race, Ethnicity, and Homelessness, National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2018.
Who becomes homeless?
Homelessness is not limited to certain “types” of people. Anyone can become homeless — seniors, children, college students, veterans, people with or without a job, people with or without a disability or mental health condition.
And yet, it is undeniable that people of color are far more likely to experience homelessness due to systemic discrimination and other societal inequalities. In Oregon, African Americans are three times more likely, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are 3.25 times more likely, and American Indian/Alaskan Native people are 3.5 times more likely to become homeless, according to reports by the National Alliance to End Homelessness and ECONorthwest; Hispanic/Latinx people are disproportionately represented as well.
Homelessness touches many people in every community, but is often hidden behind stereotypes and stigma. Attention is most often given to a small but visible population – those who are living on sidewalks and in urban camps — while thousands of people sleeping in cars or on couches go unnoticed including, but not limited to:
- Seniors who can no longer afford a place to live
- Women and children escaping domestic violence
- College students struggling to pay for rent, school and food at the same time
- Families living doubled – or tripled-up with other families
- …And many more
Homelessness is Not a Choice
What can we do to help?
There are proven solutions for homelessness. In fact, the overall rate of homelessness throughout Oregon has gone down in the last 10 years — but the portion of people experiencing chronic homelessness is on the rise. We can do more to reduce and prevent homelessness in our region.
Learn more about solutions that work,
and how the HereTogether-Metro Homeless Services Measure is bringing them to scale
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, please connect with one of the following trusted organizations. We encourage everyone to visit these sites to find out what you can do to get involved and support organizations on the front line of the housing crisis:
Helps people identify and connect to local services throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington. Call 211, text your zip code to 8982211, or visit 211info.org.
A 104-page guide that provides a comprehensive, updated list of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.
Restrooms, phone charging and Internet access, mail services, family area, showers, hygiene items, and referral services.
Provides housing, health and recovery services, and job placements.
Helps people transition from homelessness to housing in the Portland metro area, providing shelter beds, housing and other services.
Helps homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.
Works in partnership to prevent youth homelessness and provide young people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness the resources and skills needed to lead healthy, productive lives.
Helps people identify and connect to local services throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Provides homeless intervention services in Clackamas County.
Connection to homeless shelters and other resources, clinics and treatment centers.
Our community has come together behind proven solutions to homelessness.