This Week in the Mercury

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oregon #1 in Homelessness

Posted on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Bad news—Oregon now ranks first in the nation for homelessness per capita, according to a newly released federal report from the Housing and Urban Development agency. Homelessness in Oregon has grown a whopping 35% since last year, and 17,000 Oregonians are now experiencing homelessness.

The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report found Oregon has a homelessness rate of .54 percent, compared to, for example, New York’s .31 percent.

In the past couple years, affordable housing in Oregon has made several advancements, including the document recording fee at the state level and actions taken in alignment with Portland’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness. Despite this progress, Portland affordable housing activists estimate the city needs 16,000 more affordable units to meet demand. The Housing Authority of Portland’s waitlist for cheap housing is years long. Last year when they opened the list to new applicants for the first time in two years, 2,000 hopeful households signed up in just four days.

“We as a state need to wrestle with how we tax and fund services so that we can provide the opportunity for all families to succeed,” says Patti Whitney-Wise, Executive Director of the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force.

-Rachael Marcus

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