Homelessness in Oregon

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In Portland, Oregon the local government took efforts in trying to become a zero-homeless city.[1] This is through a 10-year plan which they proposed in 2005 which states that they would move people into affordable housing rather than moving them to temporary shelters.[1] However, in 2016 a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shows that the state of Oregon had an estimated homeless population of 13,238 with about 60.5% of these people still unsheltered.[2] This means that Oregon has exceeded their time-frame (failed) and still has a long way away to go before they meet their proposed plan from 2005.

In 2017 these numbers were even higher. As of January 2017, Oregon has an estimated 13,953 individuals experiencing homelessness. Of this homeless population, 1,083 are family households, 1,251 are veterans, 1,462 are unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 3,387 are individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.[3]

Furthermore, because there continues to be a high number of homelessness in Oregon – crime relating to such issue is not looking up. Businesses have begun to make it known that they are not accepting the presence of homeless people around their businesses regardless the circumstances these people are in.[4] Some of the complaints given are that homeless people 'scare customers away'; 'they are too noisy'; and 'they block the way' just to name a few complaints.[5][6] This obviously does not sit well with any local or state government given that businesses generate revenue and no customers mean less revenue. Such differences led to the local and state government to come up with laws which criminalize homelessness and begging on the streets. Such law which was called the 'sidewalk obstruction ordinance' gave authorities the power to arrest homeless people congregating or living on the sidewalks.[4] This was however, quashed by a judge's decision in 2009.[4] This decision took away the main tool which the police and business owners had to gain power over the homeless people.[4] Such ordinance is similar to the 'vagrancy laws' which criminalizes various things including homelessness even though there is no criminal activity involved.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Staff, Streets Roots (January 15, 2013). "Ten-year plan to end homelessness gets regional redux". Streets Roots News. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  2. ^ Eastman, Janet (November 23, 2016). "Most of Oregon's homeless families live on the street, in cars, parks: Highest percentage in US., says HUD report". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  3. ^ "Oregon Homelessness Statistics in 2017". U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
  4. ^ a b c d Mayer, James (July 15, 2009). "Portland grapples with homeless issue after ruling on sidewalk ordinance". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Griffin, Anna (February 21, 2015). "Handling Panhandling". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  6. ^ Flaccus, Gillian (September 11, 2016). "Portland homeless crisis grows, creating dissent in tolerant Oregon city". Review Journal. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Mince-Didier, Ave. "What is vagrancy charge". NOLO. Retrieved December 23, 2016.