The crisis of houselessness — across the country, in Portland, and here in Fairview, Troutdale, and Wood Village — is devastating children, families and the elderly.
Research shows that people who have lost their place to live suffer from poor health, from skin diseases and sleep deprivation to mental illness and substance abuse. Studies show that unsheltered women are much more likely to be sexually or physically assaulted, while school-aged children are much more likely to attempt suicide.
Losing your place to live is also deadly, whether from violence, accidents or exposure. In Fairview, Troutdale and Wood Village, three unsheltered people died in 2020, according to the latest "Domicile Unknown" report issued by Multnomah County and Street Roots. We don't know yet how many perished in 2021.
Some unsheltered people we see, those living along Marine Drive or near the Sandy River, or walking along Halsey or Glisan. But these houseless people are just the visible signs of our crisis. Most go unseen in our cities. They're the retired couple living in their truck, the mom and her kids hunkered in a motel, the teenager sleeping in a friend's basement. Or the entire family living out of a storage unit.
As city councilors, we want to learn more about who is experiencing houseless in Fairview, Troutdale, and Wood Village. How did they lose their place to live? What are their needs, and how might we help the most people with the resources we have?
We want to share that information with you.
That's why we've organized a Jan. 18 public forum on the issue â€“ and invite you to attend. In person at Wood Village City Hall, by Zoom, or through the Wood Village YouTube channel, you'll hear from representatives from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Homeless Outreach and Programs Engagement (HOPE) Team, the Reynolds School District, El Programa Hispano, and Human Solutions.
These local experts have direct, long-time experience working with the houseless. They'll talk about:
• Who is experiencing homelessness in our three cities.
• Why people lost their place to live.
• What their daily challenges are and what they need to get into housing and to live productive, healthy lives.
By bringing these experts together to present to you, and answer your questions, our goal is to provide an accurate, multifaceted view of this crisis, the one we see and the one that we don't.
We know that an informed understanding of the houseless in our community, based on actual data and real-life stories, can lead to better solutions.
Thousands of lives, and millions in tax dollars, ride on it.
The 2020 Metro housing bond will generate $652 million. Multnomah County's Joint Office of Homeless Services 2022 budget is $150 million. Let's make sure our tax dollars come back to our cities and are used in a way that doesn't just temporarily disappear the trash and tents and drive our houseless neighbors down the road. We all deserve better, and can do better.
Sandy Glantz, Scott Harden, Wendy Lawton and Jairo Rios-Campos are hosts of the Jan. 18 forum.
Sandy Glantz is a Troutdale city councilor, Scott Harden is the mayor of Wood Village, Wendy Lawton is a Fairview city councilor, and Jairo Rios-Campos is a Wood Village city councilor.
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