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Homelessness is increasing at alarming rates due to COVID, lack of affordable units, and the wild fires. Competition for what housing is available has increased significantly in Oregon due to households being displaced by wildfires. The City of Brookings paid for a housing needs study in 2016 that stated the deficit of affordable/subsidized units was 452. We are now down the road four more years and the situation now calls for 600 units or more.

I’d like people to understand the lack of development across this country since the housing bubble burst in 2008 has to be addressed at the local and national level. Development fees are restrictive, cost of labor and materials to develop units in Curry is cost prohibitive. The City of Brookings is taking a look at the development fees to see where they can make development more attractive to builders. We need the County, Gold Beach and Port Orford to take a similar approach. It’s possible all have begun this process. We hope so.

I’d also like people to understand that most unsheltered people are good people that have fallen on hard times and are doing what they can to survive. We are hearing from people who say “never in my life would I believe this could happened to me.”  What "we" tend to see and remember are the negative encounters. These may be the most prominent incidents people recall. For every incident of negativity, there are many households you may never see - they need our support.

For those folks that struggle with substance use disorder and or mental illness, treatment facilities are needed. As a nation, we need to focus on fully funding mental health and behavioral health services if we want to see a significant and lasting decline in the number of unsheltered households.

We have over 350 client profiles in our database. We have hosted over 1,200 visits to our resource center in Gold Beach. Services provided include: food to-go, showers, laundry, clothes closet, shoes, socks, beanies, gloves, scarves, employment services, housing applications, assistance with all applications, lifeline phone services, tents, sleeping bags, referrals to Curry Community Health, ORCCA, SCBEC, DHS, AllCare and Advanced Health. We work closely with intensive care coordinators from both CCOs and providers in our area.

We have learned a great deal about what works, what’s effective and impactful from the client perspective.  One thing we know, providing a stable support system allows people the ability to achieve goals that were considered impossible. Saving important documents, copies of government issued IDs, Social Security award letters, etc. maintaining documentation is a difficult prospect when you live in a tent or vehicle. Our clients tell us, without those copies saved in client files, they would not be able to address barriers like valid ID, birth certificates, and important, time-sensitive letters from service providers. 

To learn more, volunteer or donate, visit curryhomelesscoalition.org

Beth Barker-Hidalgo

Executive Director, Curry Homeless Coalition

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