Homelessness on the rise in Multnomah County

The City of Portland and Multnomah County are showing an overall increase in people experiencing homelessness.

The latest 2011 Point-in-time count conducted by the city and county showed 2,727 people who were homeless — meaning sleeping in emergency shelter, vouchered into motels or sleeping outdoors. An additional 1,928 people were sleeping in transitional housing on the night of the count, bringing the total number of individuals and families to 4,655.

Levels of homelessness in Multnomah County were 7 to 9 percent higher compared with recent counts in 2009 and 2010.

Several disturbing trends are highlighted in the report, including the number of unsheltered families with children has risen 35 percent.

“I am very concerned about the growing number of families with children on the streets and in shelter,” says County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury.  “While this report shows that we have increased the availability of emergency shelter, we can and must do better for the families in our community.   Our hope is that every family who comes to us in crisis is safe, off the street and back into a home as quickly as possible.”
Another sign that gentrification and the lack of equity across the city is having an effect are that populations of color made up 46% of the homeless population compared to only 29% of the overall population. The report notes that the over-representation is especially high for Native and African Americans.

Twelve percent of the homeless population in Portland and Multnomah County are U.S. Veterans.

The city and county report comes on the heels of statewide cuts to human services, and a recent report from the State of Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services showing an overall increase of homelessness of 29 percent.

The reports are mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and help determine future funding for housing and homeless services dollars.

Read the 2011 Homelessness Count Report.

Posted by Israel Bayer

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