The Oregonian’s Anna Griffin posted a very somber story late last week. According to the 2014 edition of “Domicile Unknown,” a four-year-old accounting of deaths among people experiencing homelessness, an average of more than one person who was homeless and living on the streets died each week. In total, there were 56 deaths in Multnomah County.
Throughout 2015, The Oregonian has released numerous stories related to homelessness in the Portland area by way of a series entitled “Our Homeless Crisis,” including an interview featuring Alexa Mason (part of our Community Engagement team) discussing Portland’s “crisis.”
Griffin writes in her story:
Since the first study of homeless deaths four years ago, the number of homeless people dying in Multnomah County has remained fairly constant. (The one-a-week figure is, county experts say, probably an undercount because the study catches people whose cause of death is determined by the state medical examiner but misses some who died, say, of a long-term illness in a hospital.)
But the numbers do offer additional insight into the reasons people end up homeless – and why, once there, they struggle to rebuild their lives. Among last year’s reported deaths, 27 were accidental, 14 were of natural causes and six were ruled suicides.
Almost half occurred in the warmer months, from April through September. Among the accidental deaths, 81 percent were related to drug or alcohol abuse.
At Portland Rescue Mission, reports like these reinforce the importance of providing meals, shelter and life-restoring care. And this is why you, as supporters, are such a vital part of the Mission. Your support offers 330,000 meals each year along with 80,000 nights of safe shelter. This includes our 90 additional mats that we will be adding for temporary winter shelter in our Guest Care Center starting on November 1.
In addition to our overnight shelter, our 3-moth Connect Ministry helps people transition off of the streets and into permanent housing and/or employment. Connect is located in downtown Portland at our Burnside Shelter.
For individuals who want to break free from addiction and start their recovery journey, our 12-month New Life Ministries at The Harbor (men) and Shepherd’s Door (women and children) are available free of charge.