Monday, January 26, 2009


STAND & BE COUNTED! Janus Youth Programs is partnering with other local agencies again this year to conduct Multnomah County's bi-annual HOMELESS STREET COUNT! The Street Count collects critical and confidential data about people living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, in vehicles, urban camps, and doorways. The information we collect provides the most accurate impression of the people living outdoors in our community and enables service providers and funders to meet the needs of these people more effectively. Outreach Specialists and trained volunteers with Yellow Brick Road and Portland Outreach & Engagement will be out in the field night and day from January 25th through January 31st, surveying people experiencing homelessness where they live. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the Street Count. We also invite you to take a photo-tour of some of the sites and locations we visited while conducting the 2007 Street Count:
homes under bridges
homes in the woods
homes near rivers

Who coordinates the Homeless Street Count?

The Homeless Street Count is coordinated by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Housing and Community Development (BHCD). Planning for the count is led by the Outreach and Engagement Workgroup, which includes outreach workers from Janus Youth Programs, staff from other local agencies that provide homeless services, members of the Police Department, and staff from BHCD and Multnomah County.

Why does Portland conduct a Homeless Street Count?
Communities that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for homeless services are required to conduct a biannual homeless street count. The data collected from the count enables Portland to qualify for federal funding for local programs, and it also helps the City and its nonprofit partners to plan for the funding and services needed to meet the needs of homeless persons in our community.

What geographic areas does the Homeless Street Count cover?

The count covers Multnomah County, including the cities of Portland and Gresham.

What is the difference between the Homeless Street Count and the One Night Shelter Count?

The Homeless Street Count, which is coordinated by the City of Portland, focuses on people who are sleeping outside (on the street, in cars, or in abandoned buildings). The One Night Shelter Count (ONSC), which is coordinated by Multnomah County, focuses on people who are sleeping in emergency shelters and in transitional housing or who are turned away from those facilities. Both counts will occur on Wednesday, January 28, and efforts are being made to maximize coordination.

What is the definition of homelessness used for the Homeless Street Count?

The Homeless Street Count focuses on people who are unsheltered and sleeping in a place that is not intended for human habitation. This includes streets, sidewalks, parks, alleys, transportation depots or other parts of transportation systems, all-night commercial establishments (e.g. movie theaters, laundromats, restaurants), abandoned buildings, farm outbuildings, caves, campgrounds, vehicles, and other similar places. (Note: The Homeless Street Count by definition only focuses on the sub-set of the homeless population that is unsheltered. It does not include people who are in shelter or transitional housing or who are “couch surfing” or doubled up with family or friends.)

Why is the count held in late January?

Both the Homeless Street Count and the One Night Shelter Count occur at the end of January as mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD requires homeless counts to happen during the last ten days of January in order to capture data when shelter use peaks due to weather. It requires the counts to happen at the end of the month because that is when those who cycle on and off the streets are most likely to be homeless, having depleted their monthly income or benefits.

How does the count avoid duplication of data?

The Homeless Street Count survey form collects basic identifying information for each individual who is counted (first 3 letters of last name, first letter of first name, age, and gender.) This information is used to eliminate any duplication across the surveys. If identifying information is not available, or if outreach workers do not wish to disturb a campsite or someone who is sleeping, an alternative form can be used to collect information on the location and approximate number of people sleeping at that location. Because this data can not be unduplicated, it is included in an appendix to the Street Count report, but not in the official Street Count number.

What about people who are couch surfing or doubled up?

The Homeless Street Count only captures a portion of the individuals and families experiencing homelessness in a given night in our community. Those in shelter or transitional housing are captured by the One Night Shelter Count. Neither count captures people who are doubled up with friends or “couch surfing.” Unfortunately, there are no good methodologies available to collect accurate data on the number of people in that situation. But we know that they represent an important segment of the overall population of people experiencing homelessness in Portland.

For more information visit the Street Count Online


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David Scott said...

Many homeless people are victims of abuse in the form of neglect and abandonment by their parents or other caregivers. Like many victims of abuse, a lot of them have chemical dependency problems. Their pain is so deep that they use alcohol or other drugs as an escape. Some of them are simply victims of life’s tragedies, such as hurricanes, fires, or other catastrophes from which they simply don’t have the resources to recover. Also, there is a snowball effect that occurs with homelessness. After all, who is going to hire someone with no address? Most homeless people don’t have the resources to even do their laundry; who is going to hire someone in filthy clothes? Also once a person has fallen to the level of living on the streets it is very difficult for them to get a job even if they are capable of working, because the condition of homelessness creates a low sense of self-esteem which makes it difficult to relate to other people. Look at these pictures: