Record need for homeless housing in Multnomah County - KPTV - FOX 12

Record need for homeless housing in Multnomah County

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Community leaders call it an emergency situation with a record number of homeless families on the waiting list for shelter beds.

To help address the growing need, Multnomah County Commissioners approved pulling nearly $200,000 from the county's contingency fund to pay for two housing placement specialists who will work directly with the families to help them find a place to live.

All current shelter beds are full, and about 60 families remain on a list for emergency housing.

"It's at least double if not triple what we had last year, and it's shocking," said Mary Li of the Department of County Human Services.

Li blames factors including the recovering economy and an extremely tight rental market, especially for low income housing.

"It's really frustrating," said Tiffany Wright, a mother of three children.

"I've been on so many waiting lists," she said. "(Some) are two years, some are six years; it's really hard."

Wright's situation isn't unique. County workers estimate there are about 450 local families who are homeless. Outreach groups have found families camping in parks, in their cars, even in a storage unit, according to Li.

"These are our neighbors, acquaintances and members of our community," said Li who also said many of those affected are children.

In addition to the new housing placement specialists, outreach groups are providing rent assistance to families who qualify. However, the most difficult part can be actually finding the homes.

Tiffany Wright says she's hopeful housing for her and her children will come soon.

"It means everything to me," said Wright. "It's the base to being a family. We don't have that right now."

For more information about how to help, or where help is available, call the county's 211 line.

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