Homelessness in Clackamas County

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Register to volunteer at a warming center

Homelessness in Clackamas County has become an issue that is difficult to ignore.

Despite the 61 new permanent housing slots added to the county’s inventory during the last two years, homeless populations across the board in the county saw an increase in 2017 from the Point In Time Count, which saw 2,293 people who were experiencing homelessness in the county. During the last count, which took place in 2015, 2,196 people were identified as homeless, making this year’s total a 4.4 percent increase.

While it is difficult to determine the exact reasons for these increases, possible factors include:

  • Widespread increases in housing costs (a 2016 study by the Housing Authority of Clackamas County found a 28 percent increase in market rents) without corresponding increases in income, especially among lowest-income households.
  • Increased economic instability for individuals who are working in low-paying jobs even though the jobless rate continues to drop. During the past 10 years, housing costs in the county have risen at nearly twice the rate as renter income growth.
  • More severe than usual weather may have brought more homeless persons into sites where counts were occurring.
  • Growth in the county’s population has increased the demand on an already-tight housing market, which drives housing costs out of the reach of residents.
  • Some households who were paying unaffordable rent in the past may now be unstably housed or literally homeless.

On Nov. 8, 2017, the Board of County Commissioners declared an emergency to provide shelter for homeless individuals. The declaration will be in effect for six months, and it will give staff the authority to move quickly to provide warming shelters for homeless residents this winter. In this case, the increasing numbers of homeless county residents; their need for safe and warm shelter, and the current lack of adequate temporary or emergency homeless shelters constitutes an emergency.

Because of the emergency declaration, volunteers will be needed to serve in a variety of capacities. Below, volunteers can sign up to receive more information about opportunities.