Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative

Portland and many other cities are suffering from a complex homelessness crisis caused by the rising cost of living, reduced state and federal funding for housing and health services, and historical inequities.

The Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) at Portland State University addresses the challenges of homelessness here in Portland and beyond through research and evidence-based science that uncovers conditions that lead to homelessness.

The Collaborative’s goal is to help reduce homelessness and its negative impacts on individuals, families and communities. The HRAC brings together the expertise and skills of each of the university’s colleges and schools, and collaborates with people experiencing homelessness, advocates, service providers, city and county policymakers and other stakeholders.

Center Goals

  • Establish a university research center driven by community voice and community-based research.
  • Conduct research to advance practice, policy and innovations related to homelessness.
  • Identify potential solutions that address the effects of racism in perpetuating homelessness.
  • Understand how to support people experiencing homelessness while crafting long-term solutions.
  • Provide decision makers and leaders with programmatic and policy recommendations.
  • Educate community members about causes of and potential solutions to homelessness.

Research Activities

  • Reduce homelessness at PSU.
  • Understand the sociology of change to inform conversations around homelessness.
  • Develop innovative approaches to support people experiencing homelessness.
  • Document the health impacts and associated costs of homelessness.
  • Evaluate how state and local policies can reduce and prevent homelessness.

Center Directors

Marisa Zapata, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Urban Studies & Planning - College of Urban & Public Affairs

Greg Townley, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychology, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Funding Source

Portland State University is providing $1.5M over three years to support the launch of the center.


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