The number of people who are homeless has increased 5 percent over the past two years, “despite our community’s continued investment in strategies to end homelessness,” according to the 2013 point-in-time homeless count, released Friday (6/14/2013).
The biennial count gives a snapshot of the city’s homeless population. Outreach workers sweep the city on one night in January, this year Jan. 30, to count how many people are sleeping on the street, in shelters and transitional housing. The data inform government and nonprofit homeless services and their funding.
In January there were nearly 16,000 homeless people in Portland, based on the broadest definition of homelessness — on the streets, in shelters, staying with friends or family.
On Jan. 30, workers counted 1,895 people who were sleeping outside or in a vehicle or abandoned building, a 10 percent increase from 2011. Nearly half had been homeless for less than a year; 21 percent had been homeless for as many as five years.
The number of literally homeless people — those with no shelter and in emergency shelters — increased by 5 percent, to 2,869.
More than 25 percent of respondents were in downtown or Old Town-Chinatown. The next most common location was Southeast Portland, with 16 percent of respondents.
Despite the vast number of outreach organizations in the city, officials say the increase stems from lasting effects of the recession and a tight rental market, as well as inadequate resources for treating addiction and mental illness.
Officials also note in the report that on that January night, 4,832 people were receiving some sort of housing support; without it, they likely would have been part of the homeless count too.