Portland/ Community & Society
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Published on January 31, 2024
New Report Exposes Critical Gaps in Portland Shelter System for LGBTQ+ Community Source: Unsplash/ Ian Taylor

A recently unveiled report highlights significant inadequacies in Portland's shelter system and services for the LGBTQ+ community, with a pronounced scarcity of resources for transgender, nonbinary, and queer individuals facing homelessness. The paper, penned by Jonathan Frochtzwajg, a public policy and grants manager for Cascade AIDS Project, and developed by the LGBTQAI2S+ Housing Collaborative, underscores the City of Roses' struggle in adequately serving LGBTQ+ individuals in need of housing support, as reported by Portland Mercury.

Despite Portland's reputation as a haven for the LGBTQ+ community, the lack of comprehensive data and supportive infrastructure presents a stark contrast. Multnomah County's homelessness data collection methodologies fail to account for sexual orientation, an oversight that has led to an incomplete understanding of the community's needs. As noted by the KOIN, "A lot of people are coming here because they want freedom," said Faera, a transgender and Black resident of Portland, "But the system is not built for us."

Statistics from the National Alliance to End Homelessness cited in the report illuminate the disproportionate rates of homelessness faced by queer individuals – notably higher within the queer youth demographic and even more so within the Black queer community, as compared to their white counterparts. The 2022 point-in-time count revealed that 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent of those surveyed identified as transgender and nonbinary, respectively. Meanwhile, a UCLA’s Williams Institute study highlighted that nearly 17 percent of sexual minority adults in Los Angeles have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, well above the general population's rates.

Policy recommendations emerging from the report advocate for enhanced data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity, and a notable increase in LGBTQ+ accommodating shelters and housing options. According to Ground News, this would include the expansion of temporary shelters, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing that recognize and are, culturally specific to the needs of nonbinary individuals and the broader queer community.