A count of Oregon’s homeless population shows a 6 percent increase in the number of people living in shelters or on the streets. The tally takes place every two years in January and is meant to give a snapshot of a specific point in time.
The Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services released the numbers Tuesday.
The agency’s Ariel Nelson said the count turned up nearly 14,000 homeless people in Oregon, but the actual number of homeless could be bigger.
“That’s an important note to make about the point-in-time count, is that it’s critical information but it’s not going to tell the whole story about homelessness in each community,” Nelson said.
For instance, the homeless count doesn’t measure the number of people sleeping on couches or floors at the homes of relatives or friends, Nelson said.
One positive note from this year’s count: The number of homeless veterans decreased by 9 percent.
People of color, however, are disproportionately represented in the homeless population.
According to the report, “African Americans make up just 2 percent of the population in Oregon, but make up 6 percent of the homeless population in Oregon, and Native Americans make up 1.1 percent of the total population and 4.2 percent of the homeless population.”