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We Spend a Lot on Homelessness. How Are We Doing?
Though the data is certainly had to collect, some more exact numbers would be more useful

The 2021 Session was Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek's chance to take a stab at homelessness, which she did with HB 2006. It was a bold step, not only in terms of spending, but in terms of imposing policy on cities and counties.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

HB 2004 from the 2021 Session was the funding part. It allocated over $46 million to Housing and Community Services Department to award grants and provide technical assistance for emergency shelters and appropriated funds to Department Administrative Services to distribute to cities and counties to develop navigation centers. The measure appropriates a total of $47.0 million toward homelessness, but only $29 million will be used for actual sheltering of homeless people. The rest -- about 30% -- is for "navigation centers," which are "low-barrier emergency shelters open seven days per week with the purpose of connecting homeless individuals and families with health services, permanent housing, and public benefits."

The spending breaks down like this: The fact that virtually everyone has compassion for someone living on the streets makes accountability difficult. Nonetheless, and despite the fact that policymakers deliberately make the numbers elusive, both the human cost at stake and the enormous dollar amounts being spent make accountability imperative.

The study sidesteps the actual number:

Nationally, Hawaii, California, and Oregon had the highest rates of individuals experiencing homelessness, with 50 or more individuals experiencing homelessness per 10,000 individuals. According to HUD’s 2018 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report, Oregon is one of four states in which more than half (61 percent) of all people experiencing homelessness were found in unsheltered locations.

Though the data is certainly hard to collect, some more exact numbers would be more useful. 50 per 10,000 is 0.5%, so that means that 21,500 of Oregon's 4.3 million residents are "homeless," but that's maybe not what people think of when they think of homeless. Of these, 61% or a little over 13,000 are "unsheltered." Divide the $46 million by this and you add another $3,500 per person to the wave of cash being spent on the homeless.

Even many of the stingiest taxpayers would pay whatever it takes to truly rescue any number of homeless people, but one can't help but wonder if the money actually helps desperate human beings, or goes to sustain a bureaucracy.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-10-24 14:24:26Last Update: 2021-10-25 15:10:30



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