The Homeless Leadership Coalition, a collection of organizations and individuals in Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties who work with people experiencing homelessness, published their annual survey of Central Oregon, finding a 12% increase in those reporting homelessness,. This included groups identified as “chronically” homeless, as well as unaccompanied children.
The total number of people reporting homelessness jumped from 787 in 2018 to 880 in 2019.
Chronic homelessness is defined as someone who has been homeless for a year or more, and this category grew 15% over the last year, now affecting 160 people of those surveyed. The number of homeless children rose from 124 to 147 and homeless families from 165 to 189 over the last year as well. About 70% of those surveyed were “unsheltered,” or living somewhere not meant for human habitation.
Coalition spokesperson Vicky Ryan told reporters that the increase reflected in the report could be caused by improved data collection efforts coupled with an increase in trust, simply bringing more of them into the surveying process rather than a true increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness.
Ryan added the Coalition plans to use a mobile app to reach more of the homeless community, and supports performing another survey at the time of the 2020 Census in order to get better data.
By Ian MacRonald