May 18, 2023
The City Club of Central Oregon hosted its May forum, “Bending the Curve: Pathways Out of Houselessness,” at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes Convention Center. The forum discussed how an optimized, integrated system of care, funding from the Governor’s executive order, and community support could make a difference in the future of houselessness in our region.
Executive Director of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), Tammy Baney, and Director of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs at J Bar J and Chair of the Homeless Leadership Coalition, Eliza Wilson, spoke about the topic. Dr. Josh Reiher of Mosaic Medicals Mobile Clinic also shared stories of individuals experiencing houselessness. The event concluded with the Publisher of The Source Weekly, Aaron Switzer, moderating a Q&A session with the three presenters.
Baney presented data from their annual “point in time” count of people experiencing houselessness. As of 2023, there are 1,647 houselessness individuals in Deschutes County. Based on trends, this number is projected to grow to 4,600 by 2028. Of those experiencing houselessness this year, 75% are single adults, 10% are families, 12% are youth, and 2% are children. Other 2023 data shows that 73% are without shelter and that 45% of those who have been houselessness have lived in Deschutes County for more than 20 years. Of those polled, 15% said they are experiencing houselessness due to lack of work. 29% percent cited a lack of housing as a factor in their houselessness.
This year, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek made an Executive Order allocating $13.9 million to address houselessness in Central Oregon. The order also provided $1.35 million to NeighborImpact toward the prevention of houselessness.
The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) was formed to steward the executive order’s funds in our region and ensure monitoring and reporting transparency. Different local agencies addressing houselessness apply for and receive these funds and have a timeline and goals that COIC oversees.
While the Governor’s funding is only one-time, Baney says it will help people in need today and hopefully draw more investors to assist with the needed long-term dollars for our area. Wilson added that many programs addressing houselessness are at capacity, so they’ve had to prioritize needs and often turn some away. The new funding will help address this need. One example of a program that the executive order will help fund is the first dedicated shelter in Madras for those experiencing houselessness.
Dr. Reiher provided stories of those experiencing houselessness and the challenges they’ve faced and overcome to achieve stable housing. He provided examples of those facing many issues, including health conditions, aging, underemployment, addiction recovery, etc., that affect their houselessness. He stressed that we should not generalize or judge those experiencing houselessness and that they each face unique challenges.
During the Q&A, Switzer asked presenters how those attending the forum could help our area’s houselessness issue. Wilson recommended getting involved, volunteering, opening ourselves to understanding any bias we may have, and talking to someone who has experienced houselessness to better understand the issue. Baney reinforced this recommendation. She added, “It starts with us. It sounds cliché, but if we dispel that myth as we hear it. Then we start to affect the change.”
The forum also offered tours of Shepherd’s House SHARE Van and Mosaic Medical’s Mobile Clinic.
City Club Bending the Curve Final 5-18 Powerpoint
COIC picks 7 Central Oregon homeless projects for state money – KTVZ
COIC-Executive Order 23-02 Process
Homeless Leadership Coalition
Addressing Houselessness in Deschutes County
An update with Deschutes County Coordinated Houseless Response Office; coordinator outlines work so far – KTVZ
Multi-Agency Coordination Group on Executive Order 23-02 (COIC)
City of Bend & Deschutes County Emergency Homelessness Task Force (Complete)
Homeless Population Grows For Ninth Straight Year– The Source
The Bulletin Homelessness Articles
A former Bend mayor died homeless. What happened to Craig Coyner III? – The Bulletin
Homeless in the City Where He Was Once Mayor – The New York Times