On any given night, about 4,000 people sleep on the streets or in shelters across Portland. Homeless people can be adults, young people, couples or families with children. They are living on the streets, either temporarily or for the long term, for a variety of reasons. They may be homeless because of an untreated mental illness, a physical disability, domestic violence, the loss of a job, or a drug addiction. They may be experiencing a financial crisis and have been evicted from their home for the first time; they may cycle from homelessness to housing and back to homelessness again; or they may be chronically homeless, having lived on the streets for many months or years.
The City of Portland and Multnomah County invest public funds and operate programs that provide direct services to homeless people and families. The City and County also fund services provided by nonprofit organizations and private service agencies. Corrections facilities, hospitals, schools, churches, and charities also provide assistance to homeless people. All are partners in the “homeless system” and have a direct stake in providing effective and efficient services with a goal to end homelessness. The wider community also has a stake in ending homelessness. As members of a community, we want to take care of our citizens, including those with illnesses or disabilities who cannot care for themselves. In addition, all of us want safe, clean and livable streets and neighborhoods.