About Homelessness, Hunger & Poverty in Clark County

Facts About Homelessness in Clark County

  • In a January 30, 2009 one-day “point in time” count, there were 1,159 people who were homeless.
  • 54% of people who are homeless are in families with children.

  • The Council’s Emergency Shelter Clearinghouse receives over 1,300 calls per month from people seeking shelter. There were 16,617 total calls received in 2008.

  • In 2008, the Clearinghouse received emergency shelter requests from 4,032 people. Of those needing shelter, 73% were individuals in families, and of the total number, 35% were children.

  • During the 2007-2008 school year, 44.2% of Vancouver School District students and 35.8% of Evergreen School District students were eligible for free or fee-reduced school lunches, up from 38.6% and 34.9% respectively in the 2005-2006 school year.

  • Seven other Clark County school districts had between 16% and 33% of their students eligible for such assistance during the 2007-2008 school year. These statistics indicate a high risk of children going hungry outside of school.

  • Nonprofit shelter and service provider SHARE served more than 105,000 hot meals in 2008 through it’s Hot Meal Program.

  • Oregon Food Bank, in association with area food pantries, distributed 101,651 food boxes in Clark County in 2008.

  • A minimum wage earner in 2009 (earning $8.55 per hour) could afford monthly rent of no more than $444.60.

  • An SSI recipient (receiving $674 per month) could afford monthly rent of no more than $202.00 in 2009.

  • Fair Market Rent in 2009 is $623 for a studio, $713 for a 1-bedroom, and $874 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

  • The estimated wait for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is 5 years.

  • Children under age 18 comprised 13.1%, and adults 65 and older comprised 8.4% of the local population living in poverty in the county in 2007. The remaining 78.5% were between the ages of 19-64.

  • 7,688 (or 7.5% of all) county families lived below the poverty threshold in 2007. Of those, 4,217 families (55%) were led by a female householder with no husband present.

  • 61.5% of ALL families who were living below the poverty threshold in the county in 2007 received no SSI or public assistance income.

  • Homelessness, hunger and poverty affect the quality of life for everyone in our community. But you CAN do something about it. Learn more about Children, Homelessness and Access to Food, and how to make sure homeless children have access to food programs.
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    Finding Solutions

    Housing If homelessness is to end in America, the first step is to increase the number of housing units available to low income people. 20 years ago, there were twice as many affordable housing units available as there were low income households. Those numbers have now been reversed. Until we change this by making sure there is adequate affordable housing, homelessness will continue to exist. We must create sufficient affordable housing to meet demand, by increasing the capacity of nonprofits and community development corporations to develop such housing; by obtaining more public support for affordable housing; by creating more incentives for private sector involvement; and in other creative, viable ways.

    Income The second step in addressing homelessness is to ensure that people’s incomes are sufficient to support stable, independent living. Work is the chief source of income for homeless people, followed by public benefits. Unfortunately, work wages and public benefits have not kept pace with the increases in living expenses over the last few decades. As a result, poor people spend an increasing percentage of their income on housing. There are a variety of ways in which incomes can be increased, including employment training, job development and expanding public benefits.

    Services Even if there was an abundant supply of affordable housing, and homeless people had incomes that afforded them the ability to live independently, many would still require assistance to overcome the problems that interfere with their independence. Some need residential recovery programs to help them deal with drug and alcohol abuse, and follow-up programs to provide long-term assistance. Others need case management to help them establish the support networks that most of us already enjoy to help us handle the crises of daily living. Still others require treatment and counseling to help them manage their mental illness. And others need child care to give them the time and energy to apply for a job, engage in job training, even to work itself. And others need legal aid to help them escape from debilitating domestic situations.

    There is no singular solution to the problems of, and associated with, homelessness. Through a concerted, coordinated approach involving the public, government, social service, nonprofits, and the homeless themselves, we can begin to put people back into housing and work to educate each other on how to prevent homelessness in our communities in the future. To end homelessness we need affordable housing, livable wages, services for those who need them, and the will to make it happen. We must commit ourselves over the long term, to restore our communities and all who reside within them.

    Portions of this page were excerpted from the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) website: www.naeh.org