Growing Problem of Family Homelessness

The Portland Tribune’s recent editorial on homelessness focuses on the growing problem of homelessness, as well as several solutions.

The editorial highlights a growing and serious problem – children are making up a larger and larger percentage of those who are homeless.  In 2008-2009, over 18,000 school children were homeless at some point during the school year.   We couldn’t agree more with the sentiment that “[t]emporary solutions, of course, are not the best way to go for families and children, who need the stability of a real home.” Without a real home, the consequences can be severe – children fall behind in school and experience more health problems than children with stable homes. Children deserve an opportunity to succeed in school and life, both of which are tied to having a stable home.

Bridges to Housing is a great example of a permanent solution for homeless families.  Bridges to Housing serves high need homeless families in the Portland-metro area.  Families served by Bridges to Housing often have non-monetary barriers to stability and need intensive support to get back on their feet.  However we don’t need these types of interventions for everyone – homelessness is a complex problem, and our systems need to be flexible to meet everyone’s needs.

Many families who are experiencing homeless may just need some short term rent assistance to prevent their homelessness, while others may need rent assistance plus some short-term services to get back on their feet.  Increasing the supply of affordable housing for families in this region would move us towards solving the problem of family homelessness.

The editorial calls for a reexamination of the division of homeless services between the City of Portland and Multnomah County.  We think that increased state and federal resources are also critical to adequately addressing the problem of homelessness and the severe shortage of affordable housing.

We need a wide range of solutions to solve the problem of homelessness. But the good news is that homelessness can be solved and we know how to solve it.  Everyone does deserve a place to call home.