Homelessness in Rural Oregon

Last Updated: October 10, 2008

This article appeared in the October 2008 Rural Policy Matters

The overall number of homeless students in Oregon rose again this year, with larger increases in rural communities statewide, according to news reports based on Oregon Department of Education counts. The jump in homelessness rates in rural parts is due, in part, to the mortgage crisis and overall economic downturn as it affects rural communities. But rural communities are also seeing an influx of people from cities seeking more affordable housing, not finding it, and becoming, or remaining, homeless.

Rental housing, especially in Oregon’s cities, has become more expensive and more difficult to find as a result of foreclosures and the mortgage credit crunch, according to reports.

Dana Bolt, Oregon’s coordinator for homeless education, reported special concern for rural districts because of their relatively low levels of funding to assist homeless students.

Nationally, rural homeless is thought to be under-reported, in part, because homeless rural people are less likely to actually be living on the street and because most rural communities lack the resources to monitor and assist homeless people in formal ways.

Read more from the October 2008 Rural Policy Matters.