Mythbusting about the unhoused

Myth: 90% of the homelessness is due to drug addiction.
Fact: The housing shortage is the No. 1 reason that individuals and families are unhoused.
Here are the facts:
During a continuing education presentation sponsored by the Oregon State Bar’s Professional Liability Fund Nov. 8, 2023, an attorney, Jill R. Mallery, from the Statewide Pro Bono Manager, Legal Aid Services of Oregon offered the following statements when describing the reasons her office created the “Housing Notice Clinic” within the legal aid office:
“Even before the pandemic, Oregon was in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and unfortunately things have gotten worse…
“According to a 2022 state report, Oregon has underbuilt housing by 111,000 units in recent decades”
According to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, about 1 out of 4 rental households spend more than 50% of their income on rent.
There are twice as many low-income rental households in Oregon than there are affordable rental units. So, in other words, our low-income housing only houses 50% of the households that need it.
This report explains that housing affordability issues are the root cause of homelessness. Given this shortage in supply, once an eviction occurs there are very few options for housing.“
The written materials for this seminar included the following noteworthy facts about poverty:

  • Poverty is higher for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color in Oregon.
  • The Economic Policy Institute has a “Family Budget Calculator” that estimates what it takes for a family to have a modest yet adequate standard of living. The calculator takes into account the cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The calculator does not include savings for retirement, rainy day, or college. It is based on 2022 costs. For example, in Multnomah County, the budget for 1 adult and 2 children is $7,686 a month or $92,232 total. – https://www.epi.org/resources/budget/
  • Food Insecurity Definition: the estimated percentage of individuals who have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Food insecurity has profound negative impacts on the well-being and success of individuals, families and communities. During 2020, an estimated 1 million Oregonians, close to one in four people, experienced food insecurity. – Oregon Hunger Task Force: https://www.oregonhungertaskforce.org/
  • As of 2022, there were only two counties (Harney and Wheeler) in Oregon where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford even a one-bedroom apartment at what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determines to be the Fair Market Rent.
    (Information from attorney Josh Gibbs)