Homelessness on the rise in Oregon, rural counties hit hardest

KCBY, Jan 21, 2009

Homelessness is on the rise in Oregon according to a new study, and the numbers are even more staggering in rural communities.

Between 2005 and 2007, Oregon saw an 8.4 percent increase in homelessness as compared to a 10 percent decrease around much of the nation according to the Homelessness Research Institute of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

But in rural counties, the numbers were much higher.

“Oregon was the only western state to report these kinds of numbers. The rural counties have seen an increase of 36 percent. That means there was actually a decrease in homelessness in major urban areas in Oregon but there was an increase in rural areas,” says Oregon Coast Community Action Director of Housing and Emergency Services Bob More.

He says the difference between metropolitan areas and rural counties is, big cities currently have plans in place to end homelessness and tools to do so.

He says right now, working class families are being the hardest hit by the crisis.

“We’re seeing roughly 1,000 households a year in some sort of a housing crisis. Just in the last seven weeks, I’ve done 45 eviction counselings. That’s probably five to ten percent as many as I normally do.”

Volunteers and ORCCA employees will be conducting a One-Night Homeless Count in Coos and Curry counties next week to determine how many homeless people live in both counties.

The count is administered by the Federal Government.