Want to know where we are headed? Let me tell you a little story about a beautiful place called Portland.
Facing more and more people suffering outside sleeping in makeshift tents under freeway overpasses, bridges, and on city streets, local leaders were alarmed at the growing humanitarian crisis. Businesses suffered loss of income from thefts, people were noticing mountains of garbage, people camped out all day downtown, declining quality of life. Skyrocketing rents and lack of affordable housing were clearly the reason why. Everyone agreed.
Portland pledged bold action in Nov of 2015, declaring a homeless emergency and allocated $30M to “cut homeless in half by 2017”.
According to the official homeless count in 2015 there were: 1887 unsheltered people and 3801 homeless overall.
Lots of talk and debate about the scope of the problem and solutions, even back almost 5 years ago.
Did Portland half homelessness in two years?
Well, no. According to the 2017 official homeless count there were:
1668 unsheltered people and 4177 homeless overall. So yes they did manage to get 219 people off the streets, for $30M. Notice though overall homeless population went up.
Also note that from Fiscal Year 2014 through Fiscal Year 2017 they spent $243M.
OK, they’re going to keep trying and spending more and more money. Clearly it’s because rents are rising faster than wages.
What happened by 2019 with so much attention and money? What did the homeless population look like with repeated, intense engagement and outreach?
According to the official 2019 homeless count there were:
2037 unsheltered people and 4015 homeless overall.
Think we’ll do any better repeating the exact same pattern?