I have some good news, and some bad news. Lets start with the good:
Street Roots, a nonprofit newspaper
that helps those living with homelessness and poverty, has launched an easy-to-use website to accompany its Rose City Resource
The Rose City Resource site offers a “comprehensive guide to the public services and assistance programs in the Portland and tri-county area.” You can find information on basic needs like clothing, food, shelters and employment, to legal services, health care (pet care too), counseling, and cheap entertainment.
Such a wealth of resources will probably be more necessary now than ever, thanks to (and here comes the bad news
) the unprecedented rise in homelessness statewide.
The Oregon Housing and Community Services Department
has released new staggering numbers that prove what many of us can already see in the streets — the number of people in Oregon identified as homeless has increased 37 percent from the same time last year
, according to the state-wide One-Night Homeless Count. There were 12,529 homeless in January 2008. This year, 17,122.
"The numbers confirm what we already knew," said OHCS deputy director Rick Crager. "Families and individuals can't afford to pay for one of their most basic needs – a place to live.”
Corky Senecal, director of Housing and Emergency Services at Neighbor Impact in Central Oregon, called these recent homeless a “new face of homelessness that we've not seen before."
Obviously, a new approach is needed.
Senate Bill 200
(PDF), introduced on behalf of OHCS, establishes a state policy on homelessness and requires the Department of Human Services
and OHCS to better coordinate housing and services. It also encourages a focus on permanent housing as the preferred response to homelessness.
Meantime, there's always Rose City Resource.