Homelessness is not only a crisis in Oregon, it’s a crisis throughout the United States. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress reports that on any given night, there are 538,357 individuals unsheltered and experiencing homelessness. According to Oregon's (PIT) Point In Time Count, on the night of January 26, 2022, 6,633 people were counted and homeless in the Portland Metro area. This number does not account for folks who are “doubled up” and “couch surfing” with friends and family. An accurate account of the number of people of color is not available as they are less likely to be “street homeless and may be doubled up” or “couch surfing and are underrepresented in the PIT count as a result of that.  

Black and Indigenous people continue to be dramatically overrepresented in homelessness systems with people identifying as Black making up 12 percent of the total U.S. population yet representing 37 percent of all people experiencing homelessness — and half of all people experiencing homelessness families with children. Oregon’s housing market has had a direct impact on homelessness and has contributed to the perfect storm that has been brewing for decades which has led us to where we are now. High rent, low vacancy rates, and gentrification have significantly impacted our most vulnerable community members. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated already fragile economic conditions specifically for communities of color, low and extremely low-income households, elderly and disabled individuals and households.

United Way of the Columbia Willamette intends to support innovative and creative ideas to help ensure that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.


United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, in partnership with the Portland Housing Bureau, Oregon Law Center, Portland State University, PCC’s Clear Clinic, and Metropolitan Public Defender, has implemented the Eviction Legal Defense Program to assist Portland renters facing eviction.

The Eviction Legal Defense Program serves to promote housing stability for low-income tenants and mitigate the negative long-term impacts of evictions which include homelessness, decreased health outcomes, job loss, poor educational performance for children, and housing discrimination.

To date, the Eviction Legal Defense Program has helped almost 1,500 remain housed. The program aims in particular to provide targeted assistance to BIPOC communities, who are disproportionately affected by the housing crisis.

Graph showing eviction statistics in Oregon.

“I am so grateful to United Way and its kind staff for helping me when I was on the verge of becoming homeless days before Christmas... not only providing rental assistance but also doing it under a very tight timeline set by the landlord. I cannot express my appreciation and gratitude enough for their kindness and assistance. I’ve had a rough life, but your staff makes me believe... I am so grateful for all you do and thank you for all the people you help, including me.”

Maria C. - Multnomah County

Housing Stability Stories

Housing Stability

A Sheltering Shield: Eviction Legal Defense

Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024

In the intricate dance of life, there are moments when the music falters, and threat casts a daunting shadow over the hopes and dreams of individuals.

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