Official: Contrary To Common Belief, Majority Of Unhoused People Are Local

Nov 9, 2020

The perception that most homeless people are from out of town isn’t accurate, says a local official charged with analyzing the issue.

A homeless man and his dog walk through Eugene's downtown.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Sarai Johnson is Housing and Shelter Strategist for the City of Eugene and Lane County. Looking at September’s homeless count of roughly 3,800 people, she says most have chosen to stay in areas they became unhoused.

A slide during Sarai Johnson's presentation at a recent economic summit shows a breakdown of where homeless people are in Oregon.

"On any given month we have 70 to 75 percent of the population of unhoused or unsheltered people living in Eugene. About 10 to 11 percent is living in Springfield," said Johnson. 

"Only 21 people reported from being out of state. And only 27 people reported being from other parts of Oregon.”

Familiarity with an area, as well as personal connections and knowledge of immediate services often keep an unhoused person in their community.

The cities of Cottage Grove, Florence, and Oakridge follow Eugene-Springfield for homeless populations.

Johnson says rents outpacing wages remains a factor. She made her remarks at a recent economic summit for Eugene-Springfield businesses.

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