January 26, 2011
The City of Portland, our partners at Multnomah County, and our many non-profit community partners rely on federal funding to meet our goal of helping every Portlanders find a safe and affordable place to call home.
To be eligible for federal funding, we're required to conduct a comprehensive Homeless Street Count every other year.
The data we collect through the HSC, which covers all of Multnomah County, also helps us strategize how best to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in our community.
We rely on hundreds of organizations across the county to help us get the most accurate count possible, and to help administer a short survey so that we can better understand the demographics and needs of our most vulnerable.
- Why is the count held in late January? The US Department of Housing and Urban Development require that the count happens during the last ten days of January for several reasons - that's when shelter use typically peaks (because of weather), and when those cycle on and off the street are likely to be homeless, having depleted their monthly income or benefits.
- What information do we collect? Basic information about demographics, household structure, length of homelessness, time in Portland, veteran status, and where people slept on the night of the count.
- What about couch-surfers and people doubled up in apartments? The count doesn't capture these people because the federal government's definition of homelessness doesn't include these conditions. These people represent a significant portion of the homeless in the county. We'll use data collected by partner organizations to determine rough estimates of this group.
- How do we use the information we gather? This information is required to apply for federal competitive grants; non-profits and local governments use it to better target services and programming to address areas of greatest need; and, the data can help us measure whether we're meeting our goals to prevent and end homelessness.