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Oregon doubles funding of efforts to combat homelessness


Oregon Housing and Community Services is putting $40 million toward homeless prevention this year. That amount is double last year’s total, which was double the year before that.

Central Oregon specifically will see $1.8 million of that amount. The extra money’s going toward providing housing for the homeless, as well as education and drug rehab programs.

But the director for NeighborImpact in Bend said Wednesday that despite the increase in funding, we’re still facing an uphill battle when it comes to adequate housing for those in need.

“There are more and more folks that are desperate to find a place to live in Bend’s ever-tightening rental market,” Scott Cooper said Wednesday. “And statewide — the problem occurs across the state. There are just not enough units, and not enough money to pay for those units.”

He said the strain from the skyrocketing housing market in Central Oregon has not helped the endeavors of his organization, a 21 Cares for Kids partner.

“Every year, the money goes a little less far,” Cooper said. “As we’ve seen rents climb, we’ve seen security deposits climb, things like that, then the money that we get stretches less far than it stretched, because it costs more per individual to be able to provide any help.”

Most of the funds will go to existing programs, and the rest will be available to organizations that apply for it.

One of them, Shepherd’s House in Bend, has several programs on the docket for 2018 that need funding.

“One of the things we try to do with our programming is we try to move people from the program that’s kind of our main facility here to something we call transition housing, or what we call extended living,” Shepherd’s House Director David Notari said. “It’s a chance for them to get back on their feet, and that comes at a cost.”

Shepherd’s House is also planning on expanding its winter shelter services, for which it needs more funding.

Where do you think government should focus its funding to combat the housing problem? We offer some options in our KTVZ.COM Poll, halfway down the right side of our home page.

Here’s Wednesday’s release from Oregon Housing and Community Services:

SALEM, OR — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is pleased to announce the release of $40 million in funding to provide homeless prevention and assistance to Oregonians statewide. These resources will be implemented by Community Action Agency partners across the state and delivered through the Emergency Housing Assistance (EHA) program and State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP) administered by OHCS. Both of these resources are used to immediately get Oregonians off the street and into shelter and help them eventually find long-term, stable housing.

“OHCS and the Community Action Agencies have an important opportunity to use this historic investment to make significant progress toward our goals of reducing homelessness, reaching the hardest to serve, and ensuring that Oregonians have a safe and stable place to call home,” said Governor Brown.

In recognition of the homeless crisis facing communities across the state, the 2017 Oregon Legislature invested a historic $40 million (a fourfold increase) in funding to prevent and end homelessness. The Legislature also approved $1.5 million to further help homeless veterans in Oregon. The most recent homeless Point-in-Time count found 13,953 people in Oregon are without a permanent place to call home. This number represents a 6% increase, or an additional 777 people, compared to the last count in 2015.

“OHCS and our partners take the stewardship of this investment very seriously,” said Margaret Salazar, Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. “We recognize the potential for dramatic impact with these funds and are excited to partner with the Community Action Agencies. With these funds we can prevent more Oregonians from falling into homelessness, rapidly rehouse people living on the streets, expand community shelters, and plan ahead for cold weather.”

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