Census: More homeless people in Multnomah County, but fewer on streets

Portland faces homelessness crisis (KATU News photo)

According to stats released by Multnomah County Monday, there are more homeless people in the area this year, but fewer are sleeping on the street.

The "homeless census" was conducted in February by the Joint Office of Homelessness Services, and volunteers asked homeless individuals where they slept the night of Feb. 22: in a shelter, in transitional housing or somewhere not considered fit for human habitation.

It found an 11.6 percent drop in the number of people sleeping on the streets from two years ago, which means more people in shelters. The county says they created more than 600 extra new beds for shelter.

There was also a 10 percent increase in people who don't have a home. In total, 4,177 people were found to be homeless, 1,668 of whom were unsheltered, 1,752 slept in an emergency shelter and 757 slept in transitional housing.

"Where I think we need to go with our focus for the next year is increasing our housing placement. We have a really tough climate, everyone knows it. A lot of people are feeling the pinch of the housing market, especially people who are on the end of the income scale," Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said.

Kafoury and Mayor Ted Wheeler say the key message is they've made progress, but there's still a lot more work to be done. They say they've doubled the number of shelter beds available in the last year and a half.

The survey is conducted every two years.

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