HUD building in Washington, D.C.
The Robert C. Weaver Federal Building in Washington, D.C., headquarters of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Photo by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Local governments and nonprofit organizations in Oregon will receive more than $46 million in federal grants to provide shelter for people without homes.

Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week announced the grants from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. Oregon’s share is part of more than $2.6 billion that will be spent nationally. 

“Oregonians in every corner of our state are struggling under the crushing weight of our affordable housing crisis, and like so many other problems, America’s housing emergency has only been magnified by the pandemic,” Merkley said in a statement. “I’m grateful these Oregon counties and communities are receiving this important funding to ensure access to affordable and safe housing is available to every member of our communities throughout this pandemic and beyond.”

At least 14,655 Oregonians experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2020, according to the federal department’s annual “point in time” count. Because of the Covid pandemic in 2021, it only counted the roughly 5,200 people staying in shelters, and 2022 data isn’t yet available. 

New federal money will be spread throughout the state, with more than half of the funds going to the Portland area. A full list of projects is available online

Local governments and nonprofit organizations competed for the awards.  

In 2019, the last year for which Multnomah County has data, about 4,000 people were living on the streets, in homeless shelters or in transitional housing. Slightly more than half had no shelters.

The $28.6 million Multnomah County will receive in federal grants will go toward programs that have helped more than 1,500 formerly homeless individuals and families find homes. 

There’s money available for existing subsidized housing like Madrona Studios, a five-story, 180-unit apartment building in Northeast Portland, and Sunrise Place, a 10-home complex for previously homeless families with parents recovering from substance abuse. 

Lane, Washington and Clackamas counties will receive about $4.1 million apiece for their own services. 

About 1,600 people were homeless during Lane County’s 2020 point in time count, and more than 1,000 had no shelter. The county will receive about $1 million for programs intended to quickly get dozens of people off the street and into  stable permanent homes. 

Clackamas County had about 1,200 homeless residents in 2019, the most recent year of  data. It’s using most of its federal grants to provide housing for homeless veterans, families and survivors of domestic violence.  

Washington County, which counted 716 homeless people in 2021, intends to use about half of its federal grant to continue a county-run project that provides 150 homes and wraparound services for people with chronic mental or physical illnesses, substance use or developmental disabilities. 

Marion and Polk counties counted almost 1,100 homeless residents in 2019. The region will receive almost $1.3 million in federal grants to address homelessness, with about of that sum intended to help survivors of domestic violence. 

Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties will receive $786,000 to help some of the area’s 1,100 homeless residents find housing. Jackson County will receive $268,000. The remainder of the state is set to receive almost $2.8 million for homeless outreach across Oregon. 

The federal grants come on the heels of Oregon legislators allocating $50 million to turn motels into homeless shelters and $25 million for large cities and counties to spend on temporary shelters, outreach services and hygiene services.

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Les Zaitz for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.