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Homelessness is now an unavoidable fact of life in the cities and small towns ringing Portland, a problem too large and prevalent to solve the way certain suburban communities once did.“When I started in this work, Clackamas County’s housing policy was basically, ‘Here’s a bus ticket to Portland,’” said Steve Rudman, who retired last fall after 13 years running Home Forward, Multnomah County’s public housing agency. There are just too many people now.” The post-downtown rise in homelessness takes several forms: First, suburban communities have seen a noticeable increase in the number of homeless adults wandering their streets and carving out campsites under bridges, in thickets and in doorways — a similar phenomenon to what urban Portlanders have lived with for decades.Even if suburban communities had enough temporary housing and human services for homeless men, women and children, those quick post-recession spikes in poverty would have caused problems.Instead, the recession revealed gaping holes in the social-service safety net — and in turn is forcing small-town suburbanites to confront a new, big city reality. ’” said Gerry Pruyn, who runs the Jubilee Transition Homes recovery program.

“Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” Tell us what you think Gant says that lack of services is part of what drew her to Oregon City.

The debate gets into a different philosophical question, one the entire region faces in one form or another: Homelessness has become a fact of life throughout much of the metro area, one that will exist and expand until rents drop and either incomes or the stock of affordable housing supply rise. “I understand and appreciate the role Father’s Heart plays,” Frasher said.

“But from a planning perspective, or maybe purely an organizational perspective, I look at it and think it’s not the ideal place for this kind of service.” What is?

In Washington County, for example, the total number of homeless people counted in biannual surveys rose from fewer than 200 in 2002 to more than 1,300 a decade later.

Second, Portland’s suburbs are experiencing a less obvious but even more troubling trend: More families with children struggling to find shelter and caught in what, without more support and solutions, risks becoming a multigenerational cycle of economic hardship.

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