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Homelessness in Hillsboro: What Is the City’s Role?
by Community Services Manager Tami Cockeram and Police Lieutenant Richard Goerling
Throughout the world, homelessness is a complex societal issue that is about much more than living without a home — it's also about the causes and barriers of getting back into safe and affordable housing.
While local governments like the City of Hillsboro and Washington County are involved in addressing the issue, it requires federal, state, and nonprofit partnerships to meaningfully address homelessness.
Homelessness is not a new issue, but as it has become more visible in our region, the City of Hillsboro has dedicated additional resources. We recognize the importance of maintaining Hillsboro's livability for everyone.
Here are some of the steps that the City of Hillsboro is taking to address homelessness in our community:
- The City has established a Homeless Work Group to increase our understanding of the issue's complexity, and to research possible initiatives that could help individuals move forward in obtaining safe, affordable, and stable housing.
- Hillsboro’s Police, Parks & Recreation, and Public Works departments are working together to respond to livability issues in our community related to homelessness.
- The Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) are actively engaging in outreach and relationship-building with people experiencing homelessness to learn who they are and what circumstances they're facing, to inform them of available social services, and to influence their behavior.
- The Police Department is adding a full-time Homeless Liaison Officer to focus exclusively on serving the community through proactive crime prevention and enforcement.
- The Code Compliance team is actively cleaning up illegal homeless camp sites throughout the city.
- The City has entered into an agreement with HomePlate Youth Services to bring dedicated outreach services to Hillsboro, beginning in August. HomePlate’s staff will focus on connecting youth to housing and providing outreach to anyone they meet who is experiencing homelessness in our community. HomePlate staff will be daily resources for City of Hillsboro departments and employees; they are also liaisons who will bring experience navigating the systems, offering skilled outreach, and understanding the needs and challenges of people without a home.
Community partnership is key in this work and we are fortunate to have relationships with many organizations that are interested in collaborating. All of the Police Department’s efforts are in partnership with various community groups, including other law enforcement agencies, government social service organizations, and nonprofits.
In all our efforts, City of Hillsboro employees are being thoughtful, informed, and methodical to ensure that our initiatives maintain a compassionate community that is safe, welcoming, and livable for everyone.
Additional resources on homelessness:
- City of Hillsboro Community Impact Grant information (Focused on homelessness and housing stability from 2017 to 2020)
- Washington County shelter information
- Washington County programs serving homeless persons information
- Hillsboro School District homeless assistance
- SOS Shelter at Orenco Station (operated in the winter at Sonrise Church)
- HomePlate Youth Services
- Community Action shelter information
- Project Homeless Connect
2018 Hillsboro City Council Priority: "Continue working with community partners to resolve homelessness"
- Be part of overall efforts to address issues of homelessness by developing partnerships and identifying actions to be taken.
- Community Action is the lead community partner in the Hillsboro 2035 Community Plan action items that call for pursuing housing-first strategies to provide the homeless with stable shelter while they are accessing other services; and providing targeted assistance to at-risk populations to reduce homelessness, including transitional youth.
- Continue close partnership with Washington County in implementing the 10-year plan to end homelessness.
- Full list of 2018 City Council priorities in detail