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OPINION: Faith leaders seek sea change in homeless services

By: Rich Vial

What is a perfect solution to homelessness? (a) Plentiful, safe, and affordable housing options; (b) enough well-trained caseworkers to assess and provide wraparound services tailored for each houseless person; (c) easily accessible drug rehabilitation and mental health treatment; (d) clean water, healthy food and adequate medicine; (e) services and education for homeless children; (f) efficient coordination of all these resources so the people most vulnerable can have basic human needs met.

By any measure, Portland falls far short of these goals. We have in place randomly dispersed homeless encampments rife with trash and inadequate sanitation. Even when a caseworker interacts with a homeless person, there is usually inadequate or no follow-up contact with the individual, sometimes because the individual has moved to another location. Oregon ranks dead last in the nation for accessibility to substance abuse treatment. (According to Oregon Recovers, fewer than 1% of Oregonians who need treatment are receiving it!) While we have some new housing solutions, some are far behind schedule and others are still years from being completed. Unfortunately, these solutions are nowhere near what is needed now.

Read entire Beaverton Valley Times article here.

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