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Annual one-night census of people experiencing homelessness shows increases in Central Oregon.

According to results of the 2019 Point-in-Time Count, an annual one-night census of people experiencing homelessness in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties and for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the number of homeless in Central Oregon surveyed rose to 880 from 787 last year — a 12% increase.

In a statement accompanying the release of the count, the board of the Homeless Leadership Coalition stated, "The fact that homelessness is rising in the midst of a strong economy should be a warning sign to all of us that we still have a homeless crisis in Central Oregon. Every community in Central Oregon is affected. It is unacceptable that hundreds of our fellow citizens — children, parents, veterans, and others are unsheltered every night. We need a united regional effort to build affordable and supportive housing and a willingness to invest in innovative ideas."

The numbers released by the HLC include people who met HUD's definition of homelessness — people living in shelters, transitional housing programs, or in a place not meant for human habitation — on Jan. 23. Participation in the survey is voluntary.

In June, the HLC will release city and county level data along with additional information about people at-risk of homelessness, access to health care and causes of homelessness. The HLC is currently scheduling community meetings, which will take place over the coming months to share local data.

Drilling down into the numbers, approximately 70% of Central Oregon homeless were unsheltered, a number in line with recent years. That includes an increase of 15% in the number of families that were unsheltered (from 165 in 2018 to 189 in 2019).

The number of homeless children under 18 years old increased 19%, from 124 last year to 147. Among those children, 20 were unaccompanied.

A total of 160 individuals reported being chronically homeless — homeless for over a year — an increase of 15%, which is slightly higher than the rate of increase for the overall homeless population.

In line with past years, economic factors continue to be the number one issue cited by survey participants as a barrier to finding adequate housing. Unemployment was the second most reported factor.

To review the data summary from the January 2019 count or to learn how to connect with agencies and efforts in your community, visit http://cohomeless.org.

For more information, contact coalition co-chairman James Cook at 618-610-1405, or coalition coordinator, George Myers at 612-419-6408.

Homeless Leadership Coalition

The Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition is a collaboration of community partners in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties and he Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs engaging the community through education, advocacy, planning, prioritization and accountability for services to persons experiencing homelessness.

The coalition consists of more than 40 organizations, including faith communities, shelter providers, public schools, public health, emergency services, veterans outreach, public safety, mental health, housing services, public services, private employers and community advocates.

They represent a diverse group of interests, unified by a common focus: a Central Oregon where everyone has a safe, stable place to call home.

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