|In June 2015, the City Council discussed the face of homelessness in Tigard and the availability of services to the area homeless population. A number of community members participated in the conversation including representatives from St. Francis’ Severe Weather Shelter, St. Anthony Parish, and Just Compassion.
Just Compassion, a coalition of Tigard Tualatin and Sherwood churches, local governments and nonprofits, which are working to address homelessness issues, provided a comprehensive report on the adult homeless population in Tigard.
Resulting from the discussion was a commitment from the city to:
- Identify areas of the city which are appropriately zoned for a day center.
- Assist Just Compassion and other non-profits in identifying federal grants.
- Introduce non-profits to key connections in the Tigard business community.
- Provide additional consideration to non-profits addressing homelessness that apply for the city's social service grants.
- Work with Just Compassion and Tigard Police to better inform the community about interacting with the homeless population.
- Continue the discussion through the council goal of defining and establishing the city's role in addressing homelessness. The City is documenting the progress made on these commitments on a recently created webpage.
CURRENT DATA FOR HOMELESSNESS
Homeless data is convoluted based on when and how the data is collected, and may not necessarily represent the true number of homeless residing in Washington County. Reliable data does not exist for number ofpeople experiencing homelessness living in each city. Anecdotally, Just Compassion estimates that 100 people are living on the streets each night across Tigard, Tualatin, and Sherwood.
Data collected by the annual homeless point-in-time (PIT) census and Community Connect broadly illustrate the number of homeless living in Washington County.
The top five cited reasons for being homeless in Washington County are unemployment, could not afford rent, criminal history, mental/emotional disorder, and kicked out of household by family/friends.
Homeless Point-In-Time (PIT) Census
Each January, a homeless point-in time (PIT) is completed which requires canvassing the 727 square miles of the county and interviewing persons face-to-face. This data represents about 42% of the homeless population, which means the homeless populations is being undercounted.
In the January 2016 PIT census, the breakdown of the Washington County homeless population was:
- 595: Total homeless households
- 378 Literally Homeless (Street, place not meant for habitation)
- 193 Sheltered (Transitional, Emergency, Safe Haven)
- 24 Other Homeless Situations (i.e doubled up)
Community Connect Community Connect has been gathering data only since 2014-15 with the goal of providing more comprehensive, valid data on the homeless population. Their latest report indicated a:
- 37% increase in homelessness with adult only households representing 61% of the homeless population. Historically, families with children comprised the higher homeless population. A new face of homelessness includes seniors over age 62 years and people with disabilities living on fixed income.
- Chronic homeless populations are increasing. The chronic homeless population has barriers to housing given the low vacancy rate in housing.
- Veteran homelessness is decreasing.
Day Center Usage
Just Compassion opened a day center in January 2016 at the Tigard Foursquare Church. The center is open every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for homeless adults. From January to August, 223 guests(56 unique individuals) visited the Just Compassion day center. In the coming weeks, the day center will expand to two days a week, Wednesday and Thursday.
CITY RESOURCES DEVOTED TO HOMELESS
The City continues to devote staff and financial resources to address homelessness in Tigard. Examples of the city's commitment includes:
Participating in the Washington County 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Approved in 2008, the plan was developed through a public planning process that involved more than 100 community stakeholders, and was led by Washington County in partnership with the cities of Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Tigard. The 10-YearPlan provides the framework to address the diverse homeless population through a 3-prong approach that includes: housing first, client-centered support services, and employment/economic supports.
Maintaining a variety of housing choices and removing barriers to the development of affordable housing.
Community development staff are working on issues related to affordable housing, and specifically, mitigating the potential displacement of affordable housing residents in Tigard's Town Center by the Southwest Corridor. The City has submitted a Metro grant application that would identify potential sites for housing relocation and preservation, developing a funding analysis to support an anti-displacement strategy,and engaging with affordable housing residents on equitable solutions.
Prioritizing support for federal homeless assistance grants on the City's legislative agenda.
The city is collaborating with Just Compassion to address the lack of homelessness resources in Tigard. Just Compassion, a registered nonprofit in Oregon, is committed to establishing a day shelter for homeless adults in Tigard. The day shelter will provide resource information for mental and physical health, as well as assistance in overcoming barriers to employment, job and housing stability.
The city’s federal lobbyist has met with Just Compassion on multiple occasions to discuss potential federal funding opportunities.
Building connections with the homeless community through the Tigard Police Department.
Two police officers spend up to five hours a week proactively connecting with the homeless community. The officers seek out the homeless at known homeless camps, in order to connect with them and inform them of available services. The police department estimates that one quarter of the chronically homeless that they work with have been able to secure housing.
Responding to complaints involving the homeless.
Being homeless is not a crime and that’s why we do offer and direct resources to people who are in need. But this lifestyle is a matter of choice for some. And we’ve found that, ultimately, there are those who will resist transitioning into a more formal living situation."
A Tigard Police spokesperson provided this quote in a 2013 Oregonian article. In 2016, this quote holds true in how Tigard Police respond to complaints involving the homeless. Each Tigard Police officer is equipped to respond to complaints regarding the homeless population. The most common complaints are a homeless person camping on a trail and homeless sleeping in a car parked in a residential neighborhood. From July 2015 to July 2016, in Tigard, there were 535 calls (up from 443 last year) involving a transient or homeless person who was either directly or indirectly involved in a 911 emergency required a response from TVFR and/or Tigard Police. Occasionally, the police department is tasked with dispersing established homeless camps that are causing citizen complaints and sanitary issues.
Continuing informal outreach at the Tigard Library.
The Tigard Library is a place of refuge for a number of individuals who appear to be homeless. The library staff, on occasion, interacts with the homeless to provide them with information about area services. On days when the Just Compassion day center is open, volunteers from Just Compassion visit the library to inform individuals, who are known to be homeless, about the services available at the day center.
Inviting Just Compassion and Good Neighbor Center to participate in the city’s non-profit roundtable.
The two non-profits are active participants in the roundtable discussions which includes city staff, religious leaders, and representatives from non-profits non-profit leaders throughout the city.
Allocating funds from the annual budget for social services grants.
The city sets aside approximately one-half of 1% of the prior year’s operating budget for events and social services. FY 16-17, the City list of non-profits receiving funds included: Good Neighbor Center, Just Compassion, St. Anthony Severe Weather Shelter, and Washington County Project Homeless Connect.
Contributing in-kind staff support to Tigard non-profits.
The City supports Just Compassion by attending monthly meetings, communicating Just Compassion events and resources on the city’s social media networks, providing planning assistance for potential day center sites, and printing of homeless resource cards.
ACTIONS FOR COUNCIL CONSIDERATION
The purpose of tonight’s discussion is to further “define and establish the city’s role in addressing homelessness. Any of Tigard’s efforts in addressing homelessness will supplement regional and national efforts. Washington County Thrives, Washington County Project Homeless Connect, and 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness are just a few of the programs created on the county level to address homelessness. On the federal level, the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2016, awarded over $4.7 million in grant funding for homeless veterans in Oregon.
Staff has developed a range of options, from short-term to long-term, for council’s consideration. The council may also wish to develop a policy statement around the city’s approach to homelessness. This statement would provide a clear understanding to the community on how Tigard will be tackling the issue.
Increase or reallocate funds dedicate to social service grants.
The City could increase the current set aside of one-half of 1% of the prior year’s operating budget. In the FY 16-17 budget, social service grants totaled over $200,000. In lieu of increasing the allocation, the city could provide preference to non-profits addressing the Council goal of addressing homelessness in Tigard.
Begin assessing the feasibility of inclusionary zoning in Tigard.
The state legislature, in 2016, promulgated legislation allowing cities to require developers to devote a certain number of units to affordable housing. Portland is one of the Oregon cities currently considering allowing for inclusionary zoning. City staff could develop a plan to address whether inclusionary zoning should be considered in Tigard.
Enact an ordinance extending the number of days of notice required when evicting residents Tigard could enact an ordinance providing tenants 90 days' notice for no-cause evictions.
The cities of Milwaukie, Portland and Vancouver, WA have passed such a measure in response to the region's increasing rents. City staff could examine the ramifications of such an ordinance in Tigard.
Devote an FTE to work with the homeless population.
The position would serve as a liaison with the homeless population, non-profits serving the homeless population, and county resources. This FTE would be in addition to the work being done by Tigard Police. The city could explore partnering with Tualatin or Beaverton on funding the position. City staff could examine options for funding a position and the work load for a homeless liaison.
Allocate funding to Just Compassion for the operation of a day center in Tigard Just Compassion is committed to opening a seven day a week day center in Tigard.
A day center would provide the area’s homeless population a space for refuge, rest and recovery. Just Compassion currently operates a once-a-week day center at Tigard Foursquare. The city could allocate additional funding to assist Just Compassion with opening a seven day a week day center. Funding is not currently allocated beyond the $5,000 social services grant.
Host a Summit on Homelessness in Tigard.
The City could convene a Summit on Homelessness to bring together elected officials, non-profit organizations, the faith community, community members and homeless to examine ways to reduce and prevent homelessness in Tigard.