Homelessness Identified As Highest Priority In Jackson County By Poll

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — Commissioned by the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors, the results of a recent poll indicated that 38% of those polled stated that homelessness should be the highest priority issue of County Commissioners. This makes homelessness the issue that is the highest priority to residents of Jackson County.

Working in Jackson County on projects such as  such as feeding and clothing the homeless, and providing home assistance though the Hope Village and Hope House projects, the Salvation Army was not surprised to see homelessness show up as the issue that the community is most concerned about. Randy Mulch, the major in charge of the Jackson County Salvation Army, is concerned about homelessness, and said, “You see homeless everywhere you go.”

It was recently found that 65% of those who were homeless in Oregon lived on the street, in their cars, or in another unsheltered place, while some did find shelters. Mulch believes that the city commissioners are doing the best they can, but feels that there is more that can be done to help the county somewhere in government.

Commissioner Rick Dyer responded to the poll. He confirmed that homelessness is something that has been at the top of the county’s priority list for quite some time. The county looks at the issue of homelessness from all angles, including affordable housing and housing inventory.


Homelessness in Oregon

A January 2023 count recorded that the number of unhoused families in Oregon increased by 3,900 people- or 27%, since 2020 and found that almost 60% of these people were living outside without safe shelter. With the fourth largest homeless population per capita and the third highest rate of homelessness in the nation, Oregon only trails New York and Vermont, in the federal count of homeless individuals in 2023.

With the sixth highest rate of homelessness among families with children, Oregon has the most unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness out of all states. The state entities plan to use part of a $60 million grant from the Biden administration to house people who are chronically homeless.

Related: University Of Oregon Undertaking Impacts Of Homelessness On Health Study


Lack Of Affordable Housing

A significant factor, the 2023 count revealed that there are 48 Oregonians without permanent housing for every 10,000 people in the state, which equates to 20,142 unhoused people, but many experts agree that these numbers could be an undercount. Although homelessness is not a new phenomenon, it has quickly gotten worse, with Oregon’s homeless population increasing by 23% during the 2020 to 2022 COVID-19 pandemic years. It increased by a further 12% between 2022 and 2023.

Related: $20M Awarded For Affordable Housing By Oregon Housing And Community Services

Jackson County Commissioners Dave Dotterrer and Colleen Roberts have not responded to the poll, or addressed how they will tackle homelessness.

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