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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Biennial Count Shows 6 Percent Increase In Oregon's Homeless Population

Tom Brandt
Flickr -
File photo. A biennial count of Oregon's homeless population turned up nearly 14,000 homeless people in the state--a 6 percent increase since the last tally.

A count of Oregon's homeless population shows a 6 percent increase in the number of people living in shelters or on the streets. The tally takes place every two years in January and is meant to be a snapshot of a specific point in time.

The Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services released the numbers Tuesday.

The agency's Ariel Nelson said the count turned up nearly 14,000 homeless people in Oregon. But she says the actual number of homeless could be bigger.

"That's an important note to make about the Point-in-Time count, is that it's critical information but it's not going to tell the whole story about homelessness in each community,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the homeless count doesn't measure the number of people sleeping on couches or floors at the homes of relatives or friends.

One positive note from this year's count: The number of homeless veterans decreased by 9 percent.