Three years ago, 30 homeless people died in Multnomah County. Since then, deaths have almost tripled.
Israel Bayer is the executive director of Street Roots, a newspaper for the homeless. He says skyrocketing rents, more homeless people and a vacancy rate close to zero is creating a humanitarian crisis.
“Right now we’re not moving people off the streets at the rate at which we should be. That’s contributed to the market that we’re in. It’s also due to the lack of affordable housing in our community,” Bayer said.
Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis said he feels like a failure because many of the deaths were avoidable, premature or both.
County Chair Deborah Kafoury said a new homeless shelter is about to open in Gresham and there’s a ballot measure in Portland in November that would subsidize about $250 million worth of affordable housing.