Almost 15,000 Oregon residents begin each day without knowing where they’re going to sleep that night. One quarter of those are in families with children. Those are the official figures, but even that underestimates the true extent of our homelessness crisis, which includes the highly visible people sleeping in doorways, on sidewalks, in camps, or in shelters—but also the people crashing on a different couch every night. In Portland, the situation is fueled by a systemic snarl of underfunded social services, structural racism, compounding financial factors, mental health and substance abuse problems, and scarce affordable housing. (See also our breakdown of the state's controversial new "rent control" measures.) In 2005, the Portland City Council adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness. Fourteen years on, the number of our fellow Portlanders experiencing homelessness has only increased.
In the first of a three-part series, Portland Monthly takes on this issue: what we need to know about homelessness, and how the citywide crisis is playing out in one Portland neighborhood.
One woman’s story
Looking for solutions