PORTLAND, Ore. – The City of Portland and Multnomah County have been recognized by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness for their work in finding permanent housing for homeless veterans.
Portland is the first city on the West Coast to be recognized by the White House, according to Mayor Charlie Hales.
“I’m proud today, that Portland is the first West Coast city to receive official designation in meeting the White House’s Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness. This would not have been possible without our government, nonprofit, faith and private sector partners’ complete dedication to this work,” he said.
In January 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama challenged mayors in cities across the country to end veteran homelessness.
The challenge focused on many metrics, including the number of chronically homeless veterans, the percentage of homeless veterans who are being housed within 90 days, and whether the number of veterans being housed is greater than the number becoming homeless.
Hales, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, the A Home for Everyone coalition, and the Portland Veterans Affair Medical Center worked together with several nonprofits on a new program to reduce the number of homeless veterans.
The efforts, the city says, have resulted in effectively ending homelessness among local veterans.
In 2015, 695 veterans were placed into permanent housing including 291 chronically homeless veterans, according to the city. Since January 2015, there have been 599 housing placements including 156 chronically homeless veterans.
They say over the past year, the number of veterans exiting to permanent housing has continued to exceed the number veterans entering homelessness. As of Nov. 28, the city said there were 30 identified unsheltered veterans, 87 percent of which were connected to a housing resource and searching for an apartment.
"This is what it looks like when a community comes together to get things done. We can change lives," said Kafoury.
It’s taken a $30 million pledge from the city and county over the past two years to reach their goals, and they say they’ll remain committed to finding homes for unsheltered veterans.