The Multnomah County Health Department, in partnership with Street Roots, released the 7th annual Domicile Unknown report on Tuesday. The report counted at least 79 deaths in 2017 that involved someone experiencing homelessness.
The county began tracking deaths on the street starting in 2011, to help shape public policy discussions in our community on homelessness. Among the policies that emerged was the creation, with the City of Portland, of the A Home for Everyone initiative in 2014 and then the Joint Office of Homeless Services in 2017.
Marc Jolin, director of the initiative and the Joint Office, shared the following statement:
“Year after year, Domicile Unknown mourns dozens of lives stolen too soon by homelessness — showing us the deadly cost of a housing market that pushes thousands of people onto our streets, day after day, sometimes without ever offering a way back.
“The lesson should be clear: It’s not enough to catch people after they’ve fallen into crisis. We have to stop our loved ones, friends and neighbors from ever falling into crisis in the first place.
“The Joint Office and providers in our community are leading that effort locally, pushing for thousands more units of supportive housing and building on the City and County’s unprecedented investments in rent assistance.
“But we won’t end this cycle of loss until we acknowledge — across all levels of government, and all sectors of our community — that every single one of us deserves a decent and affordable place to live and access to quality, life-saving health care.”