From Corey Pein of the Willamette Week, April 23, 2008

WW’s weekly election feature—designed to scare the hell out of City Hall candidates.

This week’s question to the candidates for ex-Commissioner Erik Sten’s seat: In the most recent one-night head count in the city auditor’s report, how many homeless people were in Portland and Multnomah County shelters?

Nick Fish, labor lawyer and former Housing Authority commissioner: “I’m going to say 800.”

Ed Garren, therapist: “I’ll tell you flat out I don’t know, so why should I try to lie to you?”

Jim Middaugh, Sten’s chief of staff: “In shelters…I know how many we got off the street. [Long pause.] This is where you type ‘long pause.’ Five hundred.”

Fred Stewart, former real-estate agent and bar owner: “I’ve heard this figure before, but I can’t remember. I’m going to take a guess: 1,100.”

Harold Williams Two, youth counselor: “A thousand.”


Sally Erickson at Portland’s Bureau of Housing and Community Development sends along a clarification regarding the one-night shelter count cited above, which we pulled from the City Auditor’s annual “Service Efforts and Accomplishments Survey.”

The Auditor’s report says a Jan. 24, 2007 “one night shelter count of homeless” totaled 3,018 people. We should’ve gone to the primary source.

As Erikson notes, that number breaks down as follows:

“674 individuals in shelter

“37 people with motel vouchers

“697 people receiving rent/mortgage assistance (who, without it, would have been homeless; including rent assistance for people who recently exited homelessness)

“1,610 people in transitional housing (Examples include a clean & sober apartment building with services where people can live up to 2 years. Another is ‘transition-in-place’ rent assistance for families and individuals exiting homelessness. They are provided with services and linkage to employment so, when rent assistance ends, they’re still able to pay the rent.)”

Thanks, Sally.