Youth Homelessness Continues to Rise in Central Oregon


The Homeless Leadership Coalition released the data collected from the annual Point in Time Count (formerly The One Night Homeless Count), conducted Thursday, January 24, 2013. On this day, 2,198 individuals self-identified as persons experiencing homelessness within the tri-county region. Of those experiencing homelessness, 57 percent identified as being homeless for one year or more.

Janet Merrell of NeighborImpact and organizer of the 2013 Point in Time Count, stated, “We should be alarmed by the number of people in our community experiencing homelessness. We all have a stake in addressing the loss of jobs and resources our communities are facing as a result of the recession.”

The Point in Time Count provides a snapshot of Central Oregon’s homeless population in a 24-hour time frame. While it is not a comprehensive count, it provides valuable information to those serving the homeless, helps to educate the public about the issues of homelessness in our region, and helps direct public policy planning and development.

Over 41% (914 individuals) of all persons experiencing homelessness were 17 years of age or younger. When asked about the youth homeless numbers, Mel Parker, Program Manager of Cascade Youth and Families Transitional Housing Program, said “Imagine more than twelve, full sized, school buses filled with homeless children. That is equivalent to what we are seeing here.” She went on to say that “our children should not be left behind in a life of homelessness. Housing is a foundation for success. It is the responsibility of our community to ensure that our children have access to the resources needed for them to be successful.”

Local veterans service organizations saw veteran homeless numbers remain stable (104), when compared to 2012 (95), on the day of the count. This has been attributed to an increase in Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) rental assistance vouchers along with the creation of additional affordable housing units and supportive services for veterans. Alison Perry, Executive Director of Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO) stated that “it has been a privilege to work in partnership with local organizations and the Veterans Administration to work towards the goal of ending veteran homelessness. Though we have made great progress, the road ahead is long and there are many returning veterans who will need our support.”

The Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition has taken on the task of implementing the action items in the region’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. Over the past 18 months the coalition, which is made up of many of the areas social service agencies and non-profit organizations, has made significant progress on many of the goals outlined in the plan. Some of which include establishing three local youth drop in centers, the creation of 110 additional rental assistance vouchers and  the preservation or addition of over 180 affordable apartment homes. The coalition has also worked to educate the community on how to better assist homeless persons in applying for social security and disability related benefits. Local faith communities have also come together to to provide support and outreach to those experiencing homelessness. Although the coalition has had a tremendous impact, cuts to safety net programs at the federal, state and local levels are putting many local agencies in a position where they are struggling to provide the services necessary to assist the most vulnerable in our community.

For additional resources or to find out how you can help address homelessness in Central Oregon, go to the Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition website at: After Tuesday, April 17, 2012, data from the surveys may also be found at


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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