In 1983, Evva Smith Young, a recent 74-year-old widow, became a Clackamas County Senior Companion, offering friendship and in-home assistance to isolated seniors and people with disabilities in the county. For 13 years, she helped countless seniors maintain their independence by running errands, completing easy household chores, and simply spending time with her clients. Her family says she loved every minute of it.
That’s why when Evva’s daughters, Terri and Carol, and her granddaughter, Ellen, were seeking a meaningful activity, they turned to the Clackamas County Senior Companions Program nearly 20 years after Evva left the program. Operated by the Social Services Division, the Senior Companion Program offers a powerful antidote to isolation by pairing dedicated program participants with seniors in need of in-home support and assistance with transportation.
“My clients count on me to take them to their doctor appointments, grocery stores, or to pick up their prescriptions. If we don’t have errands to run, we just visit,” says Ellen.
Companions can spend up to eight hours a week with a client and generally have multiple clients they see each week. Senior Companion clients consistently rate the program highly and appreciate the tangible and intangible benefits they receive from the program. As one client stated, “Carol is fantastic and has made a great deal of difference in my life and my attitude about living. She helps me feel less helpless because she increases my sense of self-worth.”
All three women say they get more out of their work than they give. Terri says, “Being a companion gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I have a purpose in life.” Carol adds, “I personally feel I have grown younger both physically and mentally. It is so much better for me to have something meaningful to do instead of sitting on the couch waiting to get old.”
Senior Companions must be 55 years or older and earn less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. They receive extensive training prior to participant contact, work 15 to 40 hours per week, and earn a small stipend for their services. Know someone who would make a great Senior Companion? Contact Cari Vandecoevering, 503-655-8875, for more information.
Clackamas County Social Services
Every two years, during the last ten days of January, there is a nationwide effort to count every homeless person across the country. This Point-in-time count attempts to capture both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people to provide a snapshot of homelessness in the United States. In 2017, staff from homeless assistance agencies, county and city employees, and hundreds of volunteers across Oregon conducted a street count of the unsheltered population, and data were collected on the homeless population living in emergency shelters and transitional housing throughout the state. Along with the total number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons, information was gathered on a wide range of characteristics of the homeless population such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, veteran status, and disability status. Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) obtained data from every Continuum of Care (CoC) in the state and provides these estimates at the county and state level here and in an interactive dashboard available at http://tabsoft.co/2vDk00L.
According to this year’s PIT survey, the number of homeless people in Oregon increased by 6%, from 13,176 in 2015 to 13,953 in 2017. There were increases in both the number of sheltered (3%) and unsheltered (8%) people experiencing homelessness. This increase in homelessness is likely the result of a number of economic and demographic factors that have led to more Oregonians struggling to find housing they can afford. According to the latest Census Bureau data, Oregon was the 6th fastest growing state in the nation in 2016 and more than three-quarters of this growth came from people moving into the state. However, housing production declined dramatically from 2005 through 2010 and has only recently begun to recover, leading to a critically low housing supply. A low housing inventory coupled with a growing population has led to some of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country. Furthermore, from 2008 to 2015, family median incomes decreased 1.8 percent while median rents increased 9.8 percent (in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars). Tens of thousands of people are simply unable to afford these rising housing costs and have had to sleep in shelters, in their cars, or on the street.
Point-in-Time counts are an important source of information about neighbors who cannot find a permanent place to call home on a given night, but they do not tell the full story of homelessness in our communities. Due to the difficulties of attempting to count people who are living in places not meant for habitation in the coldest months of the year, it is likely that these numbers are an undercount of the homeless population on a given night. This year proved especially difficult due to the severity of the Oregon winter. Furthermore, some homeless families are not in shelter or on the streets, but are living with friends and family. Many CoCs go beyond a count of sheltered and unsheltered individuals and also count the number of people who are living doubled up with friends or families and are considered “precariously housed”. Others are able to provide more information on how many individuals and families are accessing services over the course of a year, rather than just on a single night. For more information about a particular CoC’s counts, methodologies, and the local initiatives being taken to address homelessness, please see the contacts at the end of this report.
On a single night in 2017:
- The number of people experiencing homelessness in Oregon was 13,953. Forty-three percent or 5,986 were sheltered, and 57% or 7,967 were unsheltered.
- Seventy percent of this population were people living in households without children, 43% of whom were sheltered and 57% of whom were unsheltered (Figure 1).
- One out of four homeless people were in households with children, and were more likely to be sheltered, with 48% in shelters and 52% living in unsheltered locations (Figure 1). The remaining four percent of the homeless population, or 605 people, consisted of unaccompanied children under the age of 18. These children are overwhelmingly living in unsheltered locations, with just 18% living in shelters and the remaining 82% on the streets, cars, or other uninhabitable places.
- The number of homeless people increased from 13,176 in 2015 to 13,953 in 2017, an increase of 6%. The unsheltered population grew at a rate of 8%, while the sheltered population increased by 3%.
- There were 3,387 chronically homeless people, making up 24% of the total homeless population.3 Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the chronically homeless individuals counted were unsheltered.
Selected Demographics of the Homeless Population:
- The majority of homeless people (73%) were over the age of 24, while 19% were under 18 and8% were 18-24.
- Men made up 60% of the homeless population, women represented 39% of all homelesspeople, and transgender people made up 0.5% of the homeless population.
- 1,494 homeless people (11%) identified as Hispanic or Latino and the remaining 89% were NonHispanic/Non-Latino.
- The breakdown of the homeless population by race shows that 81.1% were White, 6% were African American, 4.2% were Native American, 0.6% were Asian, 1.2% were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and the remaining 6.8% were multiple races.
- All homeless people of color, except Native Americans and those identifying as multiple races, were more likely than white homeless people to be sheltered than unsheltered. For example, 68% of African American homeless people were sheltered compared to 41% of white homeless people.
- All people of color, except Asians, are overrepresented in the homeless population. For instance, African Americans make up just 2% of the population in Oregon, but make up 6% of the homeless population in Oregon and Native Americans make up 1.1% of the total population and 4.2% of the homeless population (Table 1).
- There were 1,251 homeless veterans in Oregon, according to this year’s PIT count. This is 9% of the entire homeless population. Forty-seven percent of these homeless veterans were sheltered and 53% were living in unsheltered locations.
- The vast majority (90%) of homeless veterans were men, but 120 were women, 6 were transgender and the remaining 3 do not identify as female, male, or transgender. The number of homeless veterans decreased by 121 people or 9% from 2015.
- Homeless veterans are more likely than the overall homeless population to be chronically homeless, with 36% of homeless veterans experiencing chronic homelessness, compared to 25% of the overall homeless population.
Homelessness among Subpopulations
- Fourteen percent of all homeless people in Oregon have a serious mental illness and 12% have substance abuse disorder. Homeless individuals with a serious mental illness or a substance abuse disorder are very likely to be unsheltered.
- Sixty-eight percent of those with a substance abuse disorder and 72% with a serious mental illness are living in unsheltered locations.
- Sixty-five homeless people reported that they have HIV/AIDS; 60% were unsheltered.
Unaccompanied Youth and Parenting Youth
- There were 1,731 unaccompanied youth and parenting youth experiencing homelessness in 2017.
- Unaccompanied youth make up 84% of this population (1,462 people) and most of these unaccompanied youth (65%) are adults aged 18-24, while the remaining 35% are children under 18.
- The number of unaccompanied youth increased by 14% from 2015 while the number of Parenting Youth decreased by 8%.
- A significant majority (81%) of unaccompanied youth under 18 are unsheltered, compared to 56% of unaccompanied youth aged 18-24.
- All but two of the 125 parents in parenting youth households are adults aged 18-24 and the remaining two parents are under age 18. They are parents to 144 children under 18.
- Parenting Youth are more likely than unaccompanied youth to be sheltered, with 74% living in shelters.
- Unaccompanied youth are more likely than the overall homeless population to be women and to be transgender. Forty-four percent of unaccompanied youth are women and 1.4% are transgender, compared to 39% and 0.5% of the homeless population overall.
Homelessness by County
- Multnomah County had 4,177 people experiencing homelessness, representing 30% of the state’s homeless population. The counties with the largest homeless populations after Multnomah were Lane (1,529), Marion (1,049), Deschutes (701) and Clatsop (682).
- There were five counties with a Hispanic homelessness rate of more than 15%: Malheur (41%), Umatilla (22%), Jefferson (18%), Wasco (17%) and Hood River (17%).
- Four counties have a higher percentage of African American homeless people than the state average of 6%: Multnomah (14%), Harney (10.5%), Washington (9%) and Polk (8%). Jefferson County’s chronically homeless individuals make up 62% of the homeless population.
- Baker County, Crook County, and Lane County have the next three largest rates of chronically homeless people at 43%, 42%, and 42% respectively.
- The largest numbers of homeless veterans are in Multnomah county (444), Lane county (164) and Jackson county (95).
- The county with the largest percentage of unaccompanied youth and parenting youth is Curry (79%).
We want to thank the following Continuums of Care for providing OHCS with the data necessary to complete this analysis. The people listed below can be contacted for more information about the counts in their regions and local initiatives to prevent and end homelessness:
- Central Oregon CoC (Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties): Hope Browning, NeighborImpact; email@example.com
Press Release: http://www.cohomeless.org/pdf/PressRelease-HUDHomlessPIT-May2.2017.pdf
- Clackamas County CoC: Abby Ahern, Clackamas County; AbbyAhe@clackamas.us
Press Release: http://www.clackamas.us/communitydevelopment/documents/hmis2017.pdf
- Eugene, Springfield/Lane County CoC: Pearl Wolfe, Lane County; Pearl.Wolfe@co.lane.or.us
Press Release: http://www.lanecounty.org/cms/one.aspxpageId=6095987
- Hillsboro, Beaverton/Washington County CoC: Annette Evans, Washington County Department of Housing Services; Annette_Evans@co.washington.or.us
Press Release: http://www.co.washington.or.us/Housing/EndHomelessness/upload/2017-PIT-and-HICHomeless-Summary.pdf
- Medford, Ashland/Jackson County CoC: George Jarvis, Jackson County Homeless Task force/ACCESS; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oregon Balance of State CoC: Joann Zimmer, Beyond the Box Strategies, LLC/Community Action Partnership of Oregon; email@example.com
- Portland, Gresham/Multnomah County CoC: Denis Theriault, Multnomah County; Denis.Theriault@multco.us
Press Release: https://multco.us/multnomah-county/news/2017-point-time-count-more-neighborscounted-homeless-2015-more-sleeping
Young love is what brought Eric and Cherrie Schwartz to Central Oregon in 1971. A love of family, fresh air, and their charming log home is what kept them here. So when the couple’s heating system failed last spring, they were worried sick about how to afford a new one. Would they have to take out a second mortgage? Would they lose their home? Would the stress take a further toll on Eric’s health?
For years their primary source of heat was a wood stove and Eric chopped wood during the summer and fall. But after Eric’s stroke in 2013, the couple had to rely on their old furnace that, after thousands of dollars-worth of repairs, limped along until April of this year. That was right about the time when Eric and Cherrie discovered NeighborImpact’s Weatherization Program.
“We received energy assistance for a few years after Eric’s stroke so we knew about NeighborImpact,” says Cherrie. “Then, when we attended an Energy Education workshop at the NeighborImpact office, we found out about your furnace replacement and Weatherization programs and knew right away we needed to learn more.”
They inquired about the program and soon found that they qualified for home weatherization and a full heat system replacement. Over the period of a few months, NeighborImpact Weatherization and Energy Assistance crews collaborated to add generous amounts of fiberglass insulation, install weather stripping, and replace the furnace with a new system.
Now the Cherrie and Eric are prepared for a warm and comfortable winter in the home they love and will be celebrating 45 years of marriage in October.
“We can now sleep well at night knowing that we are safe and that we will have a warm place to be this winter,” says Eric. “This program has given us peace of mind, reduced our stress, and we now have a calmer existence.”
“We raised four children in this home and we never ever want to leave,” says Cherrie.
“And thanks to NeighborImpact, we don’t have to,” adds Eric.
At 82, Marion is enjoying life once again! She purchased her 1912 fixer upper in 1993 and remodeled it. At just 640 square feet, she called it her mini mansion! However, 20+ years later she realized that her home lacked the insulation and heating system necessary to keep her warm and healthy throughout the winter months. As she saw her heating bills rising, she knew she needed help.
“I received a note in the mail from NeighborImpact to attend a meeting on saving energy and I said, “Why not?” said Marion. “During the meeting, I learned about the Weatherization program. It took a year on the waiting list, but when it happened, it happened quickly.”
Marion qualified for a home energy audit and was enrolled in the Weatherization program. Mike Waitt and Judy Swendsen performed the audit and determined that a ductless heat pump would provide a substantial energy savings for Marion’s home. Using project data and REM-Design energy modeling software, estimated savings of over $500 per year are projected – a reduction of 55% for this home’s heating bill. Work crews were dispatched and the work was completed within a few weeks.
“Mike and Judy take such good care of you. I’m so thankful,” explains Marion. “I tell everybody that NeighborImpact really looks out for you! I feel like I really do live in a mansion now!”
When Marion is not tooling around in her garden or sitting in her rocking chair in her living room, she goes to luncheons and spreads the word about NeighborImpact. “I tell everybody. I go to luncheons where I stand up and say, “Thank you, NeighborImpact and thank you taxpayers!” and my friends say, “Oh God, NeighborImpact is taking such good care of you. They’re really looking out for you. Maybe one day I’ll call NeighborImpact too.”
Community Action Partnership of Oregon is working with Washington State
Community Action Partnership to sponsor a Free (for Oregon participants) web based
Family Development Certification training. This training consists of 2-1/2 weeks of
self-study and tests for understanding (using Washington State’s website); two 90
minute webinars, followed by more self-study and completion of test for
understanding; and a full day in person training which will be held in Pendleton,
Oregon on February 11th. This location provides an opportunity for those who work at
remote Eastern Oregon agencies a chance to attend a training without driving long
Plans for the next Family Development training sponsored by CAPO are in the works
for the near future, with the full day of in person training to be held in Medford, Oregon.
This training will be comprised of participants from southern Oregon who originally
signed up for the Pendleton training. If you’re interested in attending, there may be a
few open spots or cancellations.
To be included in a waiting list for this upcoming training or if you would like to be
included in CAPO’s email distribution list for all upcoming trainings, please
Last fall, the CinA weatherization crew went to perform an initial weatherization audit on Brian’s house. CinA’s crew was met with quite a few daunting challenges.
The first thing disclosed to the crew was that there was no running water. Brian had not had water for many months and had been hauling water from his neighbors. CinA could not start weatherization procedures until this was remedied. Fortunately, CinA was able to initiate resolution of the water issue using another grant source. CinA assisted Brian in obtaining bids to repair his well.
After repair of the well was complete, it was then discovered that Brian’s house had many water leaks inside. Bids were requested for the repair of the plumbing, drains and installation of handicap accessible bathroom fixtures.
Upon completion of the plumbing repairs, CinA’s weatherization crew was able to complete energy efficiency weatherization measures making the house safer and more comfortable than ever.
Brian is disabled and he and his son live on his social security disability. Without CinA’s weatherization assistance he would have continued living without running water because he did not have the resources to get it fixed. Brian was so thankful and happy to receive the assistance from these funding sources. Brian will now be able to live safer and healthier in his home.
Leveraging multiple sources with each other allowed CinA to help Brian ease the physical burden and strain that he had been living under for years.
The appreciation and thanks expressed by Brian proved an invaluable reminder of how Community Action can so positively affect a person’s life and future.