Faculty and Staff Research

Faculty and Staff Research

PSU faculty and students in front of tiny homes for people experiencing homelessness

Our faculty and staff researchers represent a wide range of disciplines from psychology and architecture to medicine and linguistics. We believe that it will take all of us working together to address the issues that lead to and perpetuate homelessness. We bring together faculty from Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University to work alongside community partners and those experiencing homelessness to help create solutions with an emphasis on communities of color. 


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Governance, Costs, and Revenue Raising to Address and Prevent Homelessness in the Portland Tri-County Region

In August 2019, HRAC released a report that estimated about 38,000 people experienced homelessness in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties in 2017. It also showed that 107,039 households were housing insecure or at risk of homelessness in the three counties. The report provides a list of proven solutions, the cost of each, and revenue-raising options.

Key findings:

  • About 38,000 people experienced homelessness in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties in 2017. This estimate includes those living doubled up, those served and an annualized count based on the one night Point-in-Time figures, which include people living in shelters, cars and on the street.
  • $2.6 billion to $4.1 billion is the estimated cost to provide housing, support, services, operations and administration for 10 years to all those experiencing homelessness. (Does not include what jurisdictions are already spending.)
  • 107,039 households were housing insecure or at risk of homelessness in the three counties in 2017. It would take an estimated $8.6 billion to $21 billion to provide rent assistance for all households in this population for 10 years. (Does not include what jurisdictions are already spending.)

Downloads:

Researchers Marisa Zapata, Jenny Liu, Lauren Everett, Peter Hulseman, Thomas Potiowsky, Emma Willingham (Portland State University)
Status Completed
Funding Internal (HRAC)
News Coverage
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    Believe Our Stories & Listen: Portland Street Response Survey Report

    This report summarizes findings from a set of interviews designed to inform the design of Portland's proposed Street Response pilot. Members of Street Roots, Sisters of the Road, Right 2 Survive, Street Books, the Portland State Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative, the Mapping Action Collective, Yellow Brick Road, and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s staff went out in teams and interviewed a total of 184 houseless people between July 16-18, 2019.

    Teams engaged people experiencing houselessness in discussions about what the Portland Street Response pilot should look like, including who the first responders should be, how they should approach individuals in crisis, what types of services and resources they should bring with them, and what types of training they should have. Following the interviews, responses were analyzed and summarized into a report to provide guidance for this important initiative based directly on the needs and experiences of unhoused people.

    Downloads:

    Researchers Greg Townley (PSU), Kaia Sand (Street Roots), Thea Kindschuh (Mapping Action Collective)
    Status Completed
    Partners Street Roots, Mapping Action Collective, Right 2 Survive, Sisters of the Road, Street Books,
    Yellow Brick Road
    Funding External (City of Portland)
    News Coverage
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      PSU Student and Employee Survey

      In the fall of 2019, HRAC conducted a survey of PSU students, faculty, and staff to determine the prevalence of housing insecurity, food insecurity, and homelessness in the PSU community. This survey was one of the first of its kind in the nation to include university faculty and staff, not just students. 

      Researchers Greg Townley, Jacen Greene, Katricia Stewart (PSU)
      Status In progress
      Funding Internal (HRAC)
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        Evaluation and Development of Best Practices for the "Village" Model

        The “village” model for people experiencing homelessness has emerged as an alternative approach to
        sheltering houseless community members. The model can be implemented quickly, uses underutilized land,
        and offers spaces for empowerment, healing, and community. Nationally, cities are examining whether the
        village model should be utilized for addressing homelessness. In Portland, we define villages as co/self-governed communities of people experiencing homelessness. “Villagers” reside in individual sleeping quarters called pods and use shared common facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens.

        For the proposed project, we will conduct mixed-methods research within and across five established villages and their neighborhoods in the Portland Metropolitan area. Information obtained from this research will help determine whether the village model represents an effective public policy solution to addressing homelessness while also helping advocates identify best practices for developing villages. This work will culminate in the creation of a graphic “how-to-guide” that has potential to have national impact, allowing groups across the country to implement villages in their communities that can help individuals transition from homelessness into permanent housing. Ultimately, we hope to enhance people’s access to safe, stable, affordable housing which will act as a platform for building better lives and achieving social, vocational, and health-related goals.

        Researchers Todd Ferry, Greg Townley, Marisa Zapata
        Status In progress
        Funding External (Meyer Memorial Trust)
        News Coverage

        How Intensive Primary Care Interventions can Improve Health Outcomes for People Experiencing Homelessness

        Medically complex patients experiencing homelessness may be good candidates for “ambulatory ICUs” (A-ICUs)—interdisciplinary provider teams with low patient-staff ratios and additional resources to address social determinants (e.g. case managers). However, a systematic review revealed data on effectiveness of A-ICUs for homeless patients
        are insufficient. In addition, because these teams are resource intensive, improving feasibility and scalability of healthcare for homeless interventions is necessary. The objective of this project seeks to understand how an existing multi-disciplinary A-ICU intervention at partner Central City Concern impacts health outcomes and experiences of high-need, high-cost patients experiencing homelessness in order to develop refinements to the intervention and provide preliminary data for future intervention development.

        Researchers Brian Chan (OHSU)
        Status In progress
        Partners Central City Concern
        Funding Internal (HRAC)

        Oregon Renters Building Knowledge for Action: For Covid-19 and Beyond

        This project will build a new knowledge base for generating and advocating for community-driven solutions for renter stability. The project will accelerate and expand existing partnerships with the Community Alliance of Tenants to create a research justice framework as part of long-standing community organizing and education with Oregon’s renters. The researchers propose to advance our work to co-create the data analysis and interpretation that will be defined by the communities’ experience, raising, analyzing, and interpreting the problems that are not visible in our policy systems.

        Researchers Lisa Bates (Portland State University)
        Status In progress
        Partners Community Alliance of Tenants
        Funding Internal (HRAC)

        Unpacking Meaning, Assumptions, and Priorities in Discourses of Homelessness

        Language frames the way people view wicked problems such as homelessness. Meaning is co-constructed through language. However, what words mean can vary from speaker to speaker and across groups. Thus, people sometimes think they are agreeing when actually they are disagreeing and vice-versa. This project, in partnership with Street Roots, employs applied linguistics research methods to uncover people’s frames and articulate what they really mean when they talk about homelessness. Results from the project can be used to inform the creation of educational or messaging materials, and to empower marginalized stakeholders in articulating and inserting their concerns into mainstream discourse.

        Researchers Janet Cowal and Melissa Haeffner (PSU), Andrew Hogan (Street Roots)
        Status In progress
        Partners Street Roots
        Funding Internal (HRAC)

        Transportation and Homelessness: Using a Quasi-experiment to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Low-income Transit Fare Program in Reducing Homelessness

        Public transportation provides instrumental community connection, access to job and educational opportunities, and benefits individual’s health and well-being. However, there is a dearth of research assessing the connection between transportation and homelessness. This project will examine the broad impact of a city-wide reduced transit fare program with the recent expansion of TriMet’s Honored Citizen Program to include low-income riders. This study, in partnership with TriMet, intends to assess how enrollment in the program impacts sense of community, homelessness, access to educational and employment opportunities, and physical and mental well-being, among those at risk of becoming homeless (e.g., low-income individuals) over time, as well as those who already experience homelessness.

        Researchers Liu-Qin Yang (PSU)
        Status In progress
        Partners TriMet
        Funding Internal (HRAC)

        Changing the Narrative Around Student Homelessness Through Ethnographic Cartooning

        This collaborative storytelling project seeks to change the narrative around homelessness through ethnographic cartooning focused on the experiences of Portland State University students. This project will result in a series of ten short comics created through collaborations between PSU students with lived experience of homelessness, Portland-based comic artists, and the research team, which includes the primary investigator and an undergraduate research assistant. These comics will center the voices and experiences of historically marginalized and oppressed groups—who are disproportionately represented among people experiencing homelessness—including people of color, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQAI individuals.

        Researchers Kacy McKinney (PSU)
        Status In progress
        Partners Portland comic artists
        Funding Internal (HRAC)

        Housed! A Seed Grant to Understand Citizen Opposition to Affordable Housing

        It is well known that influential homeowners block affordable housing projects that are proposed for their neighborhoods. The delays in building affordable housing that come from homeowner opposition is one important driver of homelessness. This project creates an extension of an existing multi-agent model of citizen opposition to unwanted land uses that include affordable housing. The modeling predicts which households are likely to oppose a project which can give project proponents the ability to recruit neighborhood champions (supporters) who can communicate with predicted opponents.

        Researchers Hal Nelson (PSU)
        Status In progress
        Funding Internal (HRAC)