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. We cannot wait any longer to address homelessness in our region.
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, 56,000 families are a paycheck (or less) away from becoming homeless. For these people, one devastating personal situation such as losing a job, an unexpected medical bill or car repair could force 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
Oregon ranks #1 in the nation for a high rate of unsheltered families with children. Nearly 22,000 students were homeless in the 20176-187 school year — a record high for our state.
US Dept. Housing and Urban Development, 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report.
While the opioid epidemic is hitting the Appalachian region of the U.S. particularly hard, the rate of homelessness in those states (including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee) is less than half the rate of homelessness in Oregon.
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.
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
How does homelessness impact our communities?
Homelessness affects everyone. It hurts our quality of life and our public health. As more of our neighbors are sleeping outside or in shelters, more human services are needed. Tension continues to grow between businesses and neighborhoods, and those who need a place to sit, sleep and exist.
In a Survey of Portland Area Respondents:
of respondents knew someone who is currently or had been homeless
of respondents had experienced homelessness themselves
- Cost of Housing 37% 37%
- shelter for the homeless 25% 25%
- public safety 11% 11%
- traffic congestion 9% 9%
KGW News, Portland Homelessness Survey, October 2017
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.
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.
There are proven solutions to homelessness, but we won't get there unless we come together.