Map showing boundaries of Multnomah County
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Map: Human Services

Frequently Asked Questions about the Interactive Maps

Facility-Based Human Services

Home and Community-Based Human Services

Facility-Based Services

The Department of County Human Services offers programs designed to assist a variety of populations. Generally, the populations share a common characteristic – poverty – but in some cases, there are other characteristics that are the focus, such as a developmental or physical disability. The majority of these programs deliver services through contracted community partners.  For the purpose of comparing program locations and participants, we used ACS data on poverty and subsets within this larger group, such as people age 65 and over and school-aged children living in poverty.

The comparison of human service program sites to intended client populations yielded mixed results.  The SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) Service System includes SUN Community Schools as well as school-linked services: Social and Support Services for Educational Success, Parent Child Development Services and Anti-Poverty Services. SUN Community Schools and most school-linked service locations match concentrations of their intended client populations well, while Aging, Disability and Veterans Services’ (ADS) senior centers, SUN Anti-Poverty Services sites and Energy Assistance outreach locations did not appear to fit as well. It appeared that locations of Energy Assistance outreach efforts and Anti-Poverty Services sites did not adversely impact the programs’ ability to reach their intended clients – the participant data fit concentrations of poverty within the County. We could not determine if the same situation applied to the senior centers because the program data wouldn’t support analysis of this issue.

We did not map the County’s programs aimed at serving the homeless population – the population is very difficult to measure because of different definitions of homelessness within data sources and the transient nature of much of that population. Also of note, while we did map facilities operated by contracted providers of culturally specific services, such as those working with seniors, we did not analyze the extent to which these facilities were well placed. Culturally specific providers have relatively few sites, but are responsible for serving clients Countywide. Thus, their physical locations are not necessarily a good indicator of how well these providers are reaching their clientele.

Examples of efforts to reach intended service recipients

  • Senior Center funding is allocated using a formula that factors in the geographic presence of seniors at varying ages, incomes and race/ethnicity including different percentages of the federal poverty level. Using census data helps ADVS know where its seniors are—and where its resources need to be.
  • The SUN Service System uses a tool it calls the Equity Index to rank existing and potential Community Schools into quartiles.  The Index is a measure of vulnerability of the student population based on poverty and racial disparities. The SUN Community School program has grown to the point that it includes all of the highest priority schools.
  • While the majority of the services funded by the County’s Domestic Violence Coordination Office (DVCO) occur where survivors live, there are also three facility-based emergency shelters.  These locations were based on community and client needs.   
  • Because incidents of domestic violence appear to be associated with poverty, the DVCO has been working with low-income housing agencies to place advocates in and around concentrations of low-income housing.

Examples of barriers

  • Funding is a significant barrier for some human service programs.  For example, the DVCO does not have sufficient funding to staff both the downtown and East County courthouses with an advocate to assist with legal support and restraining orders. For many programs, adding or shifting service locations would mean reducing the funding available for existing sites.

  • The depth of services available at individual SUN Community Schools depends on a variety of factors that are not under the County’s control. For example, the Oregon Food Bank has established food pantries at some SUN Community Schools, but can only do this where districts are willing and adequate space is available.  While the core operating funding level for SUN is the same across community schools, the specific services offered at a site depend on the additional resources and partners that are present or can be attracted to the site.

Home and Community-Based Services

Human Services provision is not necessarily dependent upon County or contractor facilities. A number of County programs bring services directly to their intended recipients. For example, the Department of County Human Services (DCHS) includes home and community-based services ranging from Domestic Violence and Anti-Poverty Services case management to Homeless Families Shelter & Emergency Services.

We found several home and community-based services that lent themselves to mapping given their relatively large numbers of participants or community locations:  DCHS Community Services Division’s Energy Assistance and Weatherization programs, as well as one of the Library District’s mobile programs, Books 2 U, which provides books and materials to families and schools. Mapping these services to intended recipients showed a good fit. Energy Assistance and Weatherization recipients were primarily in areas with higher poverty levels. Books 2 U is geared to schools with characteristics including low reading achievement scores and relatively high student populations eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch. There was a reasonable connection between school-year and summer Books 2 U locations with Free and Reduced Price Lunch eligibility.

Note: The Books 2 U map is in the General Services map viewer, along with other Library District maps.

Examples of efforts to reach intended service recipients

  • The Library uses data from the Oregon Department of Education on reading achievement and free and reduced price lunches, as well as primary languages, to identify County schools that would benefit from Books 2 U. The program utilizes a variety of delivery methods to reach children: Library staff and volunteers deliver books and materials to schools during the school year, and they bring books to many community locations during the summer in conjunction with a variety of activities, such as the federal Summer Food Service Program.
  • The Library also works with other County programs to distribute reading materials, such as the Health Department’s early childhood home visiting programs.
  • The County allocates resources for anti-poverty programs based on a longstanding County policy supporting the use of household poverty data. Allocations are made to geographic districts according to these data. Resources are also distributed Countywide according to racial/ethnic considerations.

Examples of barriers

Like most County programs, all of these programs face resource constraints to varying degrees, but they also face challenges that are somewhat unique.

  • The County’s “no wrong door” policy for residents seeking anti-poverty program assistance was established to make it easier for clients to obtain assistance. But this policy may conflict with efforts to allocate resources to specific areas because it allows residents in one area of the County to access resources allocated to another.