Wednesday, August 21, 2019

3 County Portland Metro Homeless Point in Time Counts 2017 v. 2019: Child Homeless Pop and Especially Unsheltered Child Pop Impressively Down.

I recently noticed a significant drop in the count of unsheltered children in the Multnomah County/Portland/Gresham C of Care when comparing the 2019 to 2017 HUD point in time (PIT) homeless counts. 

In 2019 the PIT count for this CoC count showed only 6 unsheltered homeless children (less than age 18) out of a universe of 192 homeless children under age 18.  This was down from a total universe of 385 homeless children/51 unsheltered homeless children in the 2017 PIT count. 

That prompted me to dig out 2017-2019 comparisons for three metro Portland counties, pasted below in a table format. 

First, Some Observations:
Total homeless:  Decreased in all counties, 4% average decrease. 
Unsheltered homeless: Increased 5% overall; Multnomah CoC up 22%, while Clackamas and Washington CoC's had 30%+ decreases
Total Homeless Children (Less than age 18):  Decreased by 43%; Clackamas CoC had lowest decrease at 12%, Multnomah CoC the highest at 50%

Unsheltered Homeless Children: 
Decreased by 76%; Clackamas CoC had lowest decrease at 62%, Multnomah the highest at 88%. 

NOTE: As shown in the table in 2019 these three counties had a PIT count of 37 homeless unsheltered children and a total of 326 homeless children. 

The most recent 2018 PSU population data for the three counties estimates the total population for children under the age of 18 as 379,731. 

That would be a rate of 1 unsheltered homeless child and 9 total homeless children for every 10,000 children in these three counties. 

I also suspect that the rate of Portland metro child homelessness and unsheltered child homelessness is substantially better than the rates for areas outside of the Portland metro area.

I DO recognize that the HUD PIT count has it's limits. The PIT is a snapshot in time survey and not a complete census, so it does not capture the total number of homeless households/persons over a longer time period. 

Just this week, PSU released a report estimating that there was a total of 38,000 people who experienced homelessness in the Portland metro area sometime during 2017; the metro Portland homeless 2017 PIT count was much smaller--5,218. 

Child homeless counts that use Department of Education definitions are significantly higher in part because the definition of homeless is substantially broader than those used in the HUD PIT count. (Those higher counts are also used in the PSU report).

Nonetheless, I think it is useful to note trends in PIT counts and rates when new PIT surveys are completed. The 2019 PIT reduction in child homelessness and unsheltered child homelessness in the 3 county Portland metro area is to be commended. 

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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