COVID surge in January challenged Homeless Leadership Coalition survey; effort underway for by-name database
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The number of homeless people in Central Oregon, as measured in an annual, federally overseen "Point in Time" count in January, rose 17% to nearly 1,300, despite outreach team challenges posed by a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Homeless Leadership Coalition reported Friday.
Here is the HLC's full news release, beginning with the highlighted points from this year's survey:
- 2022 Point in Time Count shows a 17% increase in homelessness over last year
- 1,286 people experienced literal homelessness in Central Oregon on January 24th, 2024
- 79% of people counted were unsheltered
- 65% of those counted have lived in Central Oregon for more than 3 years
- 60% of those counted have been homeless for more than 12 months
- The total number of youth experiencing homelessness continues to climb
- Central Oregon continues to see that people of color experience homelessness at a greater rate than white peers*
The Point In-Time Count attempts to capture data on both sheltered and unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness to provide a snapshot of homelessness in the United States.
It is the only source of nationwide data on sheltered and unsheltered homelessness and is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of all jurisdictions receiving federal funding to provide housing and services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
This information ultimately helps the federal government to better understand the nature and extent of homelessness. Count data also helps to inform communities’ local strategic planning, capacity building, and advocacy campaigns to prevent and end homelessness.
This count provides the Homeless Leadership Coalition (CoC, OR-503) and our collaborators information about the number of individuals in Central Oregon who are struggling to find adequate housing and shelter. In addition to the total number of sheltered and unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness, information is gathered on a wide range of characteristics of those experiencing homelessness including age, gender, race, ethnicity, veteran status, and disability status.
Local collaborators like governments, service providers, housing providers, healthcare providers, and schools will be able to better target support services and develop comprehensive plans to address poverty and homelessness in Central Oregon by taking these population trends into account.
Unfortunately, this year’s count coincided with a community Covid-19 surge which greatly impacted our street outreach teams, especially in the community of Redmond.
Individuals and families counted through this effort include people living in:
- Shelters or hotels/motels paid for by a voucher
- Transitional housing
- Camping, sleeping outdoors or in cars or in RV’s without full hookup
- Other places not meant for human habitation like a shed or storage unit
“There are many causes of homelessness in our region, and high rent and low vacancies only further the difficulty of housing people who are already homeless," said Eliza Wilson, Chair of the Homeless Leadership Coalition. "Despite our great success of housing over 60 households so far this year in partnership with Housing Works and housing many others with NeighborImpact's Rapid ReHousing Programs, the number of people experiencing homelessness continues to climb.
"We must continue to advocate for funding to build the continuum of services in our region that we know our community needs for our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. Nationally, youth who are experiencing homelessness are vastly undercounted and underserved.
"Our region is working to create a regional response to youth homelessness. The difficulties of providing services during the pandemic have not been lost on our providers and the COVID surge the week of the count only reinforces the need for a by-name list, a system to accurately count everyone who is experiencing homelessness on any given day.
"Service providers in our region are working together with shared passion and goals to reduce occurrences of homelessness and to create a community where everyone has equal access to safe and stable housing.” Wilson added.
In December 2021, Central Oregon joined Built for Zero, a national initiative of more than 90 cities and counties working to measurably and equitably end homelessness. Communities in Built for Zero work towards measurably ending homelessness for all, by focusing on building systems that can continuously reduce homelessness for populations.
The Built for Zero methodology has been developed and refined to help communities create coordinated, data-driven systems capable of making homelessness rare and brief for a population. As part of Built for Zero communities use quality, real-time data, which includes each person experiencing homelessness by name and provides real-time insights into their needs.
This data also provides population-level insights, like inflow and outflow, which enables communities to understand whether efforts are driving down the overall number of people experiencing homelessness. Then communities target interventions based on that real-time data.
After nearly six months into the work of Built for Zero, we are already developing an improved awareness of the true scope of this crisis in Central Oregon. HLC leadership hopes that by next year’s Point in Time Count we have a comprehensive and reliable real-time data-set that can be submitted in place of the typical snapshot.
“Central Oregon has made recent investments in its homeless response system but significant resource gaps remain. In addition to emergency shelter solutions we also need to build a system that prioritizes prevention and housing retention," said Lindsey Stailing, Vice-Chair of the Homeless Leadership Coalition.
"We need transitional housing and permanent housing solutions, and I think we can all agree that we need to address local housing costs and build more housing," Stailing added. "Each year, PIT numbers are eagerly awaited and then dismissed due to their limitations. We will be better served by the development of our real-time data to help hold our communities accountable and design long-term solutions that meet current needs. The HLC remains committed to a future where everyone in Central Oregon has a safe, stable place to call home, ” Stailing said.
The HLC thanks the many service providers and their volunteers for their Point in Time Count survey efforts and their daily work to meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. Special thanks goes to NeighborImpact for their help with Point in Time Count survey management and data tabulation and their continued leadership as we adopt the Built for Zero methodology.
About the Point in Time Count:
Counts occurred in La Pine, Sunriver, Bend, Sisters, Redmond, Prineville, Madras and Warm Springs. The count was a service-based count, leveraging already existing partnerships and services to those experiencing homelessness in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Surveys were conducted for the night of January 24th 2022. Due to COVID-19, surveys were collected between January 24-31st , all asking about where the individual or household slept on the night of January 24th.
|Population||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||% CHANGE (2021-2022)|
|TOTAL (Adults + Children)||787||880||969||1098||1286||+17%|
|Adults (18+ years old)||663||773||604||989||1063||+7.4%|
|Unaccompanied Youth (18-24)||83||52||48||154||104||-32%|
|Unaccompanied Children (under 18)||15||20||6||18||19||+5.5%|
|All Children (under 18 years of age)||124||174||54||111||223||+100.9%|
Sheltered: Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Hotel/Motel Paid for with Voucher
Unsheltered: place not meant for human habitation (i.e. car, outside, abandoned building, etc.)
Household: A group of respondents who self report as a household (could be partners or parents and children)
*View HUD’s CoC Analysis Tool: Race and Ethnicity here
For more information or to request a presentation on the Point in Time Count results or the Built for Zero movement, please contact the HLC at email@example.com
The Homeless Leadership Coalition (HLC) serves as Central Oregon’s Continuum of Care (CoC), OR-503. HLC is a collaboration of community partners in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Coalition membership includes nonprofit homeless assistance providers, victim service providers, faith-based organizations, governments, businesses, advocates, public housing agencies, school districts, social service providers, mental health agencies, hospitals, universities, affordable housing developers, law enforcement, people with lived experience of homelessness, and others who care about the issues facing our unhoused neighbors. The HLC works to prevent and end homelessness by improving regional and cross-system collaboration and coordination so that our communities will have a comprehensive response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible, or if it can’t be prevented, it is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.