Agencies look to housing market and rent control to help with homelessness
MEDFORD, Ore. —
A survey conducted by Jackson County Continuum of Care shows there are the most homeless people in the county than there have been in the last seven years.
"Well it's very hard to see the need and to hear what were the triggers for homelessness," said Constance Wilkerson, the Continuum of Care Homeless Prevention Coordinator.
The homeless count in Jackson County is at more than 730 people.
Wilkerson says who is needing the most help in 2018 may surprise you.
"Number one I would say is the housing situation for homeless parenting youth," said Wilkerson.
Just last year Jackson County Continuum of Care counted 15 young parents who were homeless.
This year that number nearly quadrupled to 54.
"With low hourly wages and very low vacancy it's just this this toxic combination of not being able to afford what is available and not having enough to choose from as far as housing," said Wilkerson.
A housing market that shows no mercy is also forcing the impossible decision between having a home and having an education.
"We also see quite a percentage of students who are going to SOU and RCC who can't afford to both rent and tuition and they're choosing to pay tuition and living in their cars," said Wilkerson.
And while ACCESS does what it can - in providing food and connecting the community to resources - one thing is too tall of an order for just one agency.
"What's out of my control is availability of housing and so we need more affordable housing units built in this county. And we need landlords who are willing to not increase rent every six months," said Wilkerson.
For many people making minimum wage, rent takes up 61 percent of their total income and that's without including utilities.