November 10, 2011

Tuesday, Nov. 15 marks the second annual Day of Homelessness Awareness in Portland and Multnomah County. Local government officials, religious leaders and residents will observe the day by embarking at 7 a.m. that morning on a walk of awareness that includes the shelters and organizations that serve for Portland’s homeless population.

According to data from the 2011 Point in Time Homelessness Survey, there are nearly 5,000 homeless people living in Multnomah County. That figure includes 1,331 homeless families with children and 458 homeless youth.

The survey, conducted by the City of Portland in conjunction with Multnomah County, revealed that homelessness is a growing problem in our community, especially among families with children. In the past two years alone, the number of homeless families with children increased by 35 percent.

The walk will include three calls to action for the community, encouraging people to donate, volunteer and advocate. At stops along the walk, participants will be encouraged to donate coats, blankets or money; volunteer with organizations that work with the homeless population; and advocate for people experiencing homelessness, poverty and hunger.

The walk will meet at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Downtown Chapel Roman Catholic Parish (known as “the Red Doors”) at 601 W. Burnside. Stops will include 13 Salmon Family Day Center; Bud Clark Commons, the newly-opened resource center for homeless people; and O’Bryant Square, home to the Potluck in the Park, a free weekly meal supported by volunteers from various Portland congregations.

The local faith community already houses 100 percent of Multnomah County’s shelter beds and provides countless meals and services to support the local homeless population. There are nearly 1,000 congregations in Multnomah County. If the congregations’ members and leaders joined together to support those experiencing homelessness, imagine what could be accomplished.

Join us for the Walk of Awareness on Nov. 15. Bring family, friends, neighbors and members of your congregation to help end the cycle of homelessness in Multnomah County.