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The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released a dataon the status of the homeless in America. On a single night in January 2019, state and local planning agencies reported the following:
Homeless In Oregon Is Dramatically Increasing - Why?
by Jack Kerfoot
567,715 people were homeless, an increase of 2.7% from 2018, but an almost 11% decline since 2010. 37,085 Veterans were homeless, a decline of 2.1% from 2018 and a 50% decline since 2010. 53,692 families with children were homeless, a decline of almost 5% and a 32% decline since 2010.
The shocking fact is that the unsheltered and chronically homeless in California, Oregon and Washington have significantly increased in 2019. California and Oregon have seen a 16.4% and 9.7% increase in homelessness, respectively since 2018.
Why is Oregon, particularly the Portland metropolitan area experiencing a dramatic increase in homelessness? In my campaign for Portland City Commissioner, I have reached out to nonprofits and faith-based groups across our city to gain a better understanding of our homeless crisis.
The reasons men, women and children are living on our streets are as diverse as the people themselves. The reality is no one aspires to live on the streets.
Some of Portland's homeless are drawn from states with severe winters, while others find California and Oregon more tolerant and supportive of the homeless. Drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness are major factors in our homeless crisis. The steady escalation in the cost of living and housing are also forcing people onto our streets.
Cities across America have implemented a diverse range of programs to help the homeless. Portland has literally hundreds of nonprofits and faith-based groups each attempting to help our homeless.
If Portland is to reverse the dramatic increase in our homeless, then we must dramatically increase the collaboration and coordination between all the groups working to address our homeless crisis. Portland city government must also ask, what programs across America have consistently shown to significantly help the homeless.
Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas is recognized as one of, if not the best program for the homeless. A testament to the program's success is that people must now live in San Antonio for nine months before they can even get on the Haven for Hope waiting list.
The city of San Antonio brought the private sector and charities together to develop Haven for Hope. If we truly want to help our homeless, why can't Portland develop a program that has proven to be successful?
This article was reprinted with permission from Jack Kerfoot. Jack is a candidate for Portland Commissioner.
 HUD No. 19-177 "Secretary Carson Certifies Annual Data: Homelessness Ticked Up In 2019, Driven By Major Increases in California," December 20, 2019.
 Oregon Nonprofit Sector Report 2011, Portland State University.
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