There are more homeless people in Oregon than there were last year and Lane County has the majority of them. This, according to the yearly point in time count conducted by Oregon Housing and Community Services as part of a nationwide effort to count homeless populations around the country. Lane County was recorded as having the second highest homeless rate, fourth largest chronically homeless population and second largest homeless veteran population behind Multnomah County.
This year’s count—conducted in January by volunteers armed with questionnaires—saw the total homeless population in the state total 13,953. The number is up, six percent, from 2016’s count total of 13,276. In Lane County, 1,529 individuals were counted as homeless; 42 percent of those individuals were classified as chronically homeless.
The results of the point in time count vary in their accuracy—a phenomenon officials say can be attributed to the nature of the county itself. It takes place over the course of one night in January with volunteers visiting homeless shelters and locations around the city or county known for attracting homeless populations. The volunteers ask individuals their ages, race and other personal questions including how they became homeless and if they have been diagnosed with mental illness. If individuals refuse to answer, the information cannot be recorded. Moreover, the answers the individuals give are not fact-checked.