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 their needs. 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. 

In all, 383 people took the rapidly deployed and quickly crafted survey over the course of two weeks. Nearly 40% of those surveyed identified as people of color with the highest representation among Black people and Native Americans. The results of the survey reveal profound racial disparities even in basic answers about who accesses shelter or who pitches tents. More than 1 in 4 people of color slept on the streets without a tent compared to only 1 in 10 people who are white. In addition, people of color were less likely to access shelters. That’s a stark difference in how people of color experience unsheltered homelessness and an important distinction. Overall, stable housing was the top answer to the question "What would make you feel more supported in community?"

General Info:


Marisa Zapata (Portland State University)




Street Roots and Joint Office of Homeless Services

News Coverage:

Street Roots


Spreadsheet of results

Full Report (submitted to Multnomah County and City of Portland Joint Office of Homeless Services)

Guest Opinion in Street Roots

Photo Credit: Street Roots


Related Research