Homelessness in the Portland Region: A Review of Trends, Causes, and the Outlook Ahead

Homelessness in the Portland Region: A Review of Trends, Causes, and the Outlook Ahead

While homelessness in Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding four counties declined 29 percent between 2009 and 2015, it increased between 2015 and 2017, with the number of the chronically homeless gradually edging up since 2007, a report commissioned by the Oregon Community Foundation finds. Written by EcoNorthwest, the report, Homelessness in the Portland Region: A Review of Trends, Causes, and the Outlook Ahead(47 pages, PDF), found that high rents are to blame for the severity of Portland's homelessness and that baseline forecasts predict the region's median rents will rise 14 percent between 2018 and 2022 — which would increase the incidence of homelessness from 27.1 to 31.9 for every 10,000 residents. To address the looming crisis, the report's authors call for a four-part policy response focused on supporting accelerated housing production at all price points; expanding means-tested rent subsidies; supporting coordinated, data-supported implementation of targeted assistance with mental health, substance use, and employment services; and providing effective emergency shelter system management as a last resort.