Portland/ Community & Society
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Published on February 05, 2024
Oregon Grapples with Surge in Homelessness, Portland State Study Reveals 8.5% IncreaseSource: Unsplash/Nathan Dumlao

The streets of Oregon are seeing a troubling rise in homelessness, as a recent report from Portland State University (PSU) shows an 8.5% hike in the homeless population statewide between 2022 and 2023. The study highlights Oregon's unfortunate distinction of having the second-highest rate of unsheltered homelessness in America, and the PSU's Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative cautions that the state's shelters can only accommodate 42% of this growing unhoused demographic, according to KGW8.

Scott Kerman of Blanchet House, a refuge offering sustenance and shelter in Old Town Portland, wasn't shocked by these findings, stating to KGW News, "The data is distressing, it’s horrible in lots of ways, but based on the year we and other nonprofits have experienced serving this community last year, it's not surprising at all.” 

Among the most vulnerable are students with the PSU report highlighting an estimated 21,478 students battled homelessness in the 2022-2023 school year, a peak rate unmatched in the past 16 years. The gravest statistics come from Multnomah County, which not only had the highest total number of homeless people in Oregon but also saw a record number of homeless deaths in 2022, as per KGW News.

Further complicating the issue is the discrepancy between the rate of unsheltered and sheltered homeless people, with unsheltered individuals rising by 17.2% compared to a 4.2% increase for those fortunate enough to find shelter space, as reported by KPTV.