This past January, some of our OH team members helped with the surveying of homelessness in Multnomah County’s Point-in-Time count. After a few months of combing through the surveys, the county has recently made the results available to the public. Below is an overview of these results.
The Point-in-Time (PIT) homelessness count is a federally mandated in-person count/survey of homeless people during the night of January 23rd, 2019. This count is done every two years in the state of Oregon and it helps each county determine the cause, effects, and future funding to prevent homelessness.
The 2019 Multnomah County PIT count gives us the following figures:
- Total county homeless population = 4,015 people
- 4,015 is 0.5% of the total county population of 808,781.
The PIT count identifies homelessness underthree categories: the person is ‘unsheltered’, staying in ‘emergency shelter’, or is under ‘transitional housing’.When compared to the 2017 PIT count, the number of people in ‘emergency shelters’ dropped by 16.7% and the number of people in ‘transitional housing’ dropped by 31.4%. However, the number of ‘unsheltered’ people increased by 22.1%.
* Unsheltered people are identified as people staying on the street, car, camper, campsite, or any place without running water
What do these numbers represent in our efforts to fight homelessness? The 2019 National Point-in-Time report has not been made available to the public; however, a steady trend of increasing homelessness nationwide has been observed since the 2017 Point-in-Time count. According to a 2018 report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the year 2017 was the first year where homelessness increased at a rate of 0.7% nationwide. Most of the increase in homelessness occurred in larger cities and according to the same report, the main cause for the increased number is the lack of affordable housing in these same cities. Multnomah County has also identified the source of an increase in its homeless population to the lack of affordable housing. In 2018, voters in the Portland metro area approved a $653 million bond measure to build more affordable housing.
Even if moving at a slow pace, the City of Portland is addressing the need for affordable housing. In the meantime, we can all pitch in and support our local homeless shelters which are dependent mostly on public funding and volunteer power. Take the Portland Rescue Mission for example. After their recently updated guest relations lobby and database system, they were able to provide a meal for a total of 2,200 guests for the month of October 2019. This is over 50% of the total homeless population as counted in the PIT survey. According to their website, a monthly donation of $16 per month will feed one of their guests for one year.
Whether through promoting affordable housing bonds, donations, or volunteering, we all can help make a difference in helping our neighbors get out of the streets and back on their feet. At OHPD, we are proud to support through in kind use donations as well as volunteering. We hope to inspire our team and our profession to do the same.
Point-in-time Reports. (2018) A home for everyone. http://ahomeforeveryone.net/point-in-time-counts/
Joint Office of Homeless Services. ( 2019) Multnomah County. https://multco.us/joint-office-homeless-services