Outreach workers from organizations throughout Portland and
Multnomah County will be out at the end of January trying to determine exactly
how many people are homeless in this area.
The work is in partnership with Portland and Multnomah
County to compile both the numbers and demographics of people experiencing
homelessness, from the Columbia Gorge to the floating camps on the Willamette
River. The date for the one-night count is Jan. 30, however people will be
surveyed on their sleeping status for that night through the week.
The homeless count is conducted to learn more about the
individuals and families experiencing homelessness who are unsheltered. The
report is federally mandated and happens in communities around the U.S.
“The street count is a snapshot of homelessness in our
community,” says housing commissioner Nick Fish. “Knowledge is power — the
better we understand the challenge facing us, the better we can respond.”
The count captures those sleeping outside – on the street,
in a car or abandoned building. In combination with the One-Night Shelter
Count, which is conducted on the same night, the homeless count provides
information on scope of homelessness and the need for services. The shelter
count gathers information on people sleeping in or turned away from emergency
shelters, motels, and transitional housing.
The homeless and shelter count is coming at a time when
Multnomah County and the City of Portland are updating the 10-year plan to end
homelessness. The updated plan will look at a broader population of people to
target for housing, specifically families experiencing homelessness.
Generally accepted as an undercount, the 2011 one-night
count tallied more than 4,600 people who were homeless. Nearly half were
families with children, a 35 percent increase over the previous count in 2009.
Meanwhile, the city’s financial crunch has the Portland
Housing Bureau contemplating a 10 percent reduction in its housing and homeless