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. An adult or child living without a reliable place to sleep at night is at higher risk of health problems, violence, and death. Homelessness tears at the fabric of our community.
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.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, we are short almost 90,000 affordable homes for those making 50% or less of the Area Median Income ($56,400 for a household of four) in the Portland Metro region. As rents rise, Oregonians are priced out of their homes, especially those who are Black, Indigenous and other people of color, immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities and other low-income renters. More people need housing, and there is not enough to meet the increasing demand.
Because of rising rents, increased inflation and continued impacts from the pandemic, thousands more are at risk of experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Luckily, funds from the Supportive Housing Services measure are going to eviction prevention through programs like the Regional Long Term Rental Assistance program, helping keep thousands of neighbors securely housed and off the streets.
High rents are the #1 reason for more severe homeless rates.
58% of Americans could not come up with $400 in an emergency situation.
2022 Nationwide Bankrate Survey
- Homelessness is a Housing Problem, 2022
- A new study says the housing market is largely to blame for Portland’s homeless crisis, 2022
- Oregon Report: National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2022
- Oregon Homelessness Statistics: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2020
- Housing Underproduction Report: Up for Growth, 2022
- “What is Housing First?” National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2022
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.
Who experiences homelessness?
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. Homelessness is a deeply intersectional injustice, and those who are homeless are often also oppressed by racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, intergenerational poverty and more. For example, as of 2023, due in part to recent recessions, elevated housing expenses, and a scarcity of affordable housing, older adults have emerged as the most rapidly expanding demographic within the unhoused population in the United States.
People of color are far more likely to experience homelessness due to systemic discrimination and other societal inequalities. In Oregon, Black folks are 3 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 unhoused than those who are white, according to reports by the National Alliance to End Homelessness and ECONorthwest; Hispanic/Latinx people are disproportionately represented as well. Homelessness touches 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
The Supportive Housing Services measure focuses 75% of its funding on those experiencing chronic homelessness (unhoused for over one year and experiencing at least one disabling condition) and 25% on those at risk of homelessness.
Homelessness is Not a Choice.
What can we do to help?
There are proven solutions for homelessness that are being implemented every day with support from the Supportive Housing Services measure. Thanks to those voter-backed dollars, as of July 2023, nearly 5,000 individuals have been placed into housing and over 16,000 have avoided homelessness through preventative services like housing vouchers. In addition, over 1,400 new shelter beds have been created. Learn more about solutions that work and how the 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.
Community-based housing organization in Clackamas County helping folks with essential services including housing.
Our community has come together behind proven solutions to homelessness.