Resources for housing and homelessness policy

Effective policy is key to addressing homelessness and housing insecurity. Through reports, surveys, issue briefs, literature reviews, and program evaluations, our center examines the issues and presents essential findings. 

Evictions and Oregon Renters

The pandemic has deepened the housing crisis in Oregon and threatens to leave thousands of renters homeless unless there is additional support.  As many as one in three renters owe back rent, a figure that increases to one in two for people of color.

At the same time these evictions represent an economic cost to Oregonians beyond those who are directly impacted. Our center surveyed renters during the pandemic, calculated the cost of evictions statewide with help from multiple partners, and explains what it means to cancel the rent as advocated by Community Alliance of Tenants and others. 

 

Cost of Oregon Evictions Report

  • $1 billion to $3.3 billion in downstream costs including emergency shelters, inpatient and emergency medical services, child welfare, and juvenile justice services.
  • In comparison, the total rent arrears owed in Oregon is estimated at $378 million at the high end

Eviction Cost Calculator Data for Oregon

Cost of Oregon Evictions Press Release

Oregon Renters Report during COVID-19

  • 53% of renters cut back on food and medications to pay rent. Half dipped into savings. 
  • 34.8% of tenants now owe back rent and 56% of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) tenants owe back rent.
  • 84% of tenants are experiencing mental or physical stress due to housing insecurity.

Oregon Legislature 2021 and Homelessness

The center is tracking more than 28 bills that relate to homelessness in the 2021 Oregon State Legislature including bills that would establish a long-term rental assistance program (HB 2163), establish a right to rest (HB 2367), and affect siting of emergency shelters (HB 2006).

 

Proven solutions: Housing First 

Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect people experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions or barriers such as sobriety, treatment, or service participation requirements, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Supportive services are offered to maximize housing stability and prevent returns to homelessness as opposed to addressing predetermined treatment goals prior to permanent housing entry. The model was popularized by Sam Tsemberis and Pathways to Housing in New York in the 1990s.

Numerous studies show that housing first participants experience higher levels of housing retention and use fewer emergency and criminal justice services, which produces cost savings in emergency department use, inpatient hospitalizations, and criminal justice system use.

  • 75% and 91% of households remain housed a year after being rapidly re-housed, according to multiple studies.
  • $31,545 in cost savings per person housed, according to one study. Another study showed that a Housing First program could cost up to $23,000 less per consumer per year than a shelter program.

Student Homelessness and Housing Insecurity

National research on student housing insecurity and homelessness suggests that roughly 16% of students at four-year institutions have experienced homelessness in the last year and 35% have experienced housing insecurity in the last year (e.g., Baker-Smith et al., 2020). 

Black and indigenous students experience the highest rates of housing and food insecurity—particularly in comparison with their White peers (e.g., Baker-Smith et al., 2020; Crutchfield & Maguire, 2018). Students who are transgender have higher rates of homelessness and housing insecurity; and gay, lesbian, or bisexual students have higher rates of homelessness and housing insecurity (e.g., Baker-Smith et al, 2020). In addition, former foster youth, students formerly convicted of a crime, parenting students, and students with disabilities are also at a greater risk.

PSU Housing and Food Insecurity Report

More than 60% of PSU students experienced homelessness, housing insecurity and/or food insecurity last year, according to our survey. It was one of the first in the country to include students and employees at a four-year university.

PSU Student Stories on Homelessness

Hear two students share their stories about their experiences with homelessness.

#RealCollege 2020 National Report

Five Years of Evidence on Basic Needs Insecurity by The Hope Center. Their national survey reached more than 330,000 students at more than 400 colleges and universities.

Race and Homelessness

People of color continue to experience homelessness at disproportionately high rates in communities across Oregon and around the country. Structural and interpersonal racism creates and sustains everything from the wealth gap to inequities in housing policy and even homelessness services. Several studies examine these inequities and offer solutions such as using a racial equity lens when designing programs or drafting policies to make sure they do not continue to privilege some and disadvantage others.

Oregon disparities

  • Black residents in Oregon are 3 times more likely to experience homelessness
  • Native Americans in Oregon are 5 times more likely to experience homelessness

(Data from ACS 2019 data and Oregon Point in Time 2019)

Overview of Historic Racism in Zoning

Dr. Marisa Zapata's testimony at Oregon State Legislature's Senate Committee on Housing about exclusionary zoning.

Systemic Inequality: Displacement, Exclusion, and Segregation

A report from the Center for American Progress on Systemic Racism in the United States Housing

New Data on Race, Ethnicity, and Homelessness

A report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness

The Alliance's Racial Equity Network Action Steps: Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Homelessness System

These action steps include short and long-term strategies to address disparities that CoCs have identified using HMIS and other data.

Time for Change: Findings from the SPARRC Study on Race and Homelessness

Disparate experiences of housing affordability and quality, economic mobility, criminal justice, behavioral health, and family stabilization can lead to high rates of homelessness for communities of color, and reinforce barriers to exit. 

HOPE HOME Study

This study aims to "understand the relationship between race and the experience of homelessness for older adults."

Surveys of people experiencing homelessness

Our center believes that people with lived experience of homelessness understand best the challenges, barriers, and solutions to address homelessness. It is through partnering, engaging, understanding, valuing, and centering their voices and experience that will show the pathway forward. We have conducted several surveys alongside the unhoused community to lift up their voices in public discourse. Topics include: shelter needs during pandemic, ideas for non-police response, and housing needs. We are also conducting the evaluation of the Portland Street Response pilot program, including multiple surveys of the unhoused community. 

Survey on the needs of people living unsheltered

Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative worked with the Joint Office of Homeless Services, Shannon Singleton, and Street Roots to survey people who are living unsheltered to better understand what’s working and what’s not. Because of the racial disparities that we know exist, we set out to create and administrate a survey that would also ask these questions with a focus on people of color. 

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. The people surveyed were overwhelmingly positive, supportive, and excited about the Portland Street Response as an alternative to police response.

 

Scale of homelessness in Oregon

Conflicting rates of who is experiencing homelessness, differing definitions of who is at risk, and varying cost estimates to help those without a stable place to live leave community members and policy makers confused about the scale and scope of the challenge that we face. When using any figures, consider the definition of homelessness, who is included, and who is left out. Whenever possible, use the most comprehensive definition, which includes people living doubled up and an annualized count of those experiencing homelessness. Also consider those at risk. Understanding the full scale of the issue is essential to addressing it.

Regional Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Study

Our study estimates that 38,000 people experienced homelessness in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties in 2017 and 107,039 households were housing insecure or at risk of homelessness. The report provides a list of proven solutions, the cost of each, and revenue-raising options.

Statewide homelessness figures

Our center gathered information from multiple counts including Point in Time, Department of Education, and shelter bed counts for a snapshot of Oregon's homelessness population.