A new report by Clackamas County found that nearly 2,300 people who live in the county are homeless.
The biennial Point-In-Time Count, which identifies people experiencing homelessness or inadequate housing, took place on Jan. 23, 2017. Data shows 2,293 people were experiencing homelessness. Included in that group were 746 people who were unsheltered or living in a place not meant for a person to live, including 379 children under the age of 18.
A total of 1,295 people – including 910 children – were identified as “unstably housed” meaning they were staying with friends or family due to economic hardship, or they were living in hotels or motels.
Also included in the count were 85 military veterans; 52 of whom were unsheltered.
“From faith leaders, educators, business owners and elected officials, this information should be a call to action for everyone in our community to redouble our efforts,” said Brenda Durbin, director of the county’s Social Services Division. “Everyone in our community deserves a safe, stable home – especially veterans and children.”
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. 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.
The count takes place every two years and is a requirement for jurisdictions receiving homeless funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD currently provides more than $2.2 million annually to 16 Clackamas County projects. These projects provide Coordinated Housing Assessment, Emergency Shelter, Rapid Re-Housing, Transitional Housing, and Permanent Supportive Housing services. Without these services, nearly 900 homeless persons, including veterans and families with children, would not have been assisted in the most recent reporting year. Of those nearly 900 people, many are extremely vulnerable, including people with disabilities and people who have escaped domestic violence.
For more information, members of the media and public may contact Community Relations Specialist Scott Anderson at 503-655-8752.