This week, The Oregonian continued its look at homelessness in our community, tackling one of the most hotly debated issues on the subject; The Magnet Myth. Many believe homeless people flock to Portland because there are an abundant number of resources available. However, the facts tell a different story.
Studies have consistently shown that only a quarter of Portland-area homeless people are new arrivals. The majority were born and raised here, or lived in Oregon for years before ending up outdoors. The reality is that Portland has become a destination city in general; lacking the jobs, housing and services to support the influx. Oregon’s unemployment rate still remains well above the national average, and our rental vacancy rate is between 2% and 5%.
Most large cities are dealing with the same issues that we see here in Portland; and the West Coast in general has a higher rate of transplants because they can survive outdoors more easily. For example, California represents only 12% of the American population, yet 25% of our homeless. While some cities have taken to criminalizing homelessness, Portland recognizes that doesn’t solve the problem when people literally have no place to go.