Unsheltered homeless people
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.
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.
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).
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.
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Alliance to End Homelessness
American Journal of Public Health
Sam Tsemberis, Ph.D., Center on Budget and Policies Priorities.
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.
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.
Hear two students share their stories about their experiences with homelessness.
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.
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.
Dr. Marisa Zapata's testimony at Oregon State Legislature's Senate Committee on Housing about exclusionary zoning.
A report from the Center for American Progress on Systemic Racism in the United States Housing
A report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness
These action steps include short and long-term strategies to address disparities that CoCs have identified using HMIS and other data.
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.
This study aims to "understand the relationship between race and the experience of homelessness for older adults."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.