Homelessness is a continuing crisis in Portland. In 2007, Oregon officials made a deal to end chronic homelessness with a ten year plan. Ten years later there are more people living on the streets than there were when the plans were made. Why? How could this have happened? Did Portland not take ending chronic homelessness as serious as other states? The truth is that Portland does not the enough permanent housing to end chronic homeless. The only way to truly help the homeless and end homelessness, the Oregon government needs to keep its promise and provide permanent housing for those sleeping on the streets, in their cars, or in illegal campsites.
In Oregon, permanent housing is defined as “ permanent, affordable housing with comprehensive supportive services for people who are chronically homeless and with disabilities or other substantial barriers to housing stability.” (Portland Housing Bureau)Unfortunately in Portland there are not enough these houses to help the homeless. There are several ways that permanent housing can help the homeless other than provide housing.
Permanent housing can help the homeless, because it provides services to help the chronically homeless with disabilities or mental health disabilities another plus is that they do not have to fear being evicted as long as they follow the lease. The first service provided by permanent housing is case management. This service helps a person or household to make and meet goal and obtain resources or training to make them successful with housing stability. The second service provided clinical services. This is a services that helps a tenant manage any physical injury or disease or mental ones as well. The final service provided is resident services. Resident services is a service meant to help the tenant maintain and achieve housing stability. Some programs address educations, job training or employment. The same programs may even help the tenant go to alcoholics anonymous or provide money managing classes. The services provided by permanent housing could really help many of the homeless get back on their feet and have a successful future. Unfortunately in Portland there are not enough permanent houses , and the Oregon government’s 10 year plan to provide those house has failed.
In 2007 a deal was made nationwide, to end chronic homelessness. Over the years plans were made, budgets were drafted, and meetings were held. The challenge had been accepted. In 2016 the national percentage of homeless people has dropped by 15% since 2007. In Portland it has been shown that more people are sleeping on the streets than in 2014, when they did the count. What happened? Why are so many still homeless 10 years later? In an article written by Anna Griffin for the Oregonian the problem is “… actually a housing problem. Because of well-intentioned decisions made by well- meaning policymakers, Portland lacks enough permanent housing- the foundation of the 10 year plans.” When one is homeless there are not a lot of options available and sometimes it feels like a cycle that one cannot get out of without help, that is where permanent housing would be the most advantageous. If the 10 year plans went as planned than more people would be living in homes and getting the help that they really need. For some all they really need is a little push to get them back on their feet. By not leaving the 10 year plan in a limbo there those people are being denied a healthy lifestyle and a fresh start.
The next thing that Griffin mentioned was that “ 10 years into the 10 year plan, leaders in one of the most progressive cities are resigned to the fact that illegal camping is the new normal.” Why? The 10 year plan has not gone according to plan, but being resigned to seeing the city with people sleeping on the street corners, should never be acceptable. The leaders of the 10 year plans should start fresh, make a new budget, hold new meetings, bring new people into the project, and start housing the homeless.
The homeless are not just the mentally ill or addicts. As of January 2016, 549,928 people were homeless. Out of that number 194,716 were people in families, 35, 686 are unaccompanied homeless minors or youth, from that original number. The homeless are homeless for a number of reasons. According to a graph in Griffin’s article most are chronically homeless or mentally ill. There are those who were victims of domestic abuse. There is a decent percentage of homeless that were veterans. Some of those families, the main caregivers lost their jobs and could not find another one before using all of their savings, and so they lost their homes. No matter the reason the homeless do not deserve to be where they are and need help getting homes, whether that is money, a doctor, counseling, or just a home and support. It is important to remember that the homeless are people and not merely a burden on society.
Homelessness is a real problem in Portland. More people are sleeping on the streets than ever before. The 10 year plan failed, but that does not mean the politicians of Portland can be “resigned” to the illegal camping and to all of the homeless people. It is time to make a new plan and move forward into the future to help the homeless. So that instead of seeing people sleeping on benches and campsites, people will go to Portland and see the beauty of the city.
Portland Housing Bureau. 2017. WEB. June 2017.
Our Homeless Crisis