Portland is in crisis.
We’re in the midst of the worst housing and homeless crisis in the city’s history. In 2015 and 2016, chronic homelessness increased 60 percent in Oregon, the fastest pace of any state in the country.
The Portland region’s homeless problem has exploded in tandem with its overall growth. A public health disaster has emerged against the city’s backdrop of spiking housing prices that have made basic housing unattainable to many of our citizens. At least 1,300 chronically homeless people live on Portland’s streets and lack even the barest of life essentials.
This issue is testing our civic and business sector leadership, challenging our quality of life and threatening the soul of our community – a community known for accepting and taking care of one another.
The runaway problem of homelessness has led to many Portland citizens feeling overwhelmed by the problem, considering how they might help, and wondering what the best possible solutions might be. Given recent and predicted demographic and economic trends, homelessness will intensify without significant, sustained intervention.
Despite an unprecedented effort over the last several years and months to marshal more resources, expand shelter space and increase services to the homeless, our homeless crisis is deepening. Recently, there have been some significant accomplishments to curtail this crisis, but much more must be done. These accomplishments include:
- Six-hundred new individual shelter spaces were added in Multnomah County during 2016
- The City recently passed a $250 million affordable housing bond measure
- A great number of public, faith-based, volunteer and nonprofit entities have worked doggedly on the problem for months and, in many cases, years
The joint office, A Home for Everyone, initiative by the City and County, has made a major and positive difference in addressing many aspects of the homeless problem