Back in January, the city did its biennial street count and recently released the results. Not surprisingly the levels of homelessness in Multnomah County have increased over the past couple years. Nearly 3,000 people were counted as "literally homeless" for the one night, an increase of 7-9% from the 2009 count. The count gives us a broader picture of what homelessness in Portland looks like and what the needs are, but there are some "hidden" populations that don't show up in the report.
Many of the youth p:ear serves are couch surfing, staying with friends or cycling on/off the streets. As they were not literally homeless on the night of January 26th, those youth are not in the count. Expanding the definition of homelessness to its broadest (including those who are couch surfing or in temporary housing), the report estimates the number of homeless folks in Portland to be closer to 15,000.
As the City of Portland is over half-way through its 10 year plan to end homelessness, it will be interesting to see how the results and information from the Street Count effect and guide the way we address homelessness.