Wyden, Merkley: Essential Work to Reduce Youth Homelessness in Three Oregon Counties to Receive $7 Million

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that Lane County and the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance serving Marion and Polk counties will receive a combined $7 million in federal funds aimed at reducing youth homelessness.

“Every child in America needs a roof over their heads and a floor under their feet so they can focus on learning in school, enjoy good physical and mental health and have the opportunity they deserve for a happy childhood,” said Wyden, who also recently announced his Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing (DASH) bill to end youth homelessness as part of a comprehensive approach to homelessness overall. “I’m glad that Lane County and the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance have earned this federal investment and look forward to their experiences using these resources to house children as a blueprint that helps other communities in Oregon and nationwide to do the same.”

“Children should not have the burden of finding a place to call home, especially while trying to navigate school and childhood during a global pandemic,” Merkley said. “I’m pleased to see Lane County and the Mid-Willamette Valley Homelessness Alliance receive critical funding to address the pressing issue of child homelessness and ensure the safety and security of our kids. Oregon youth deserve every opportunity to succeed, which means having a stable roof over their heads—and I will continue fighting to make that a reality for every child.”

The $3.69 million for the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance and the $3.31 million for Lane County is from the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The program supports communities working to develop and implement a coordinated approach to prevent and end youth homelessness with HUD planning to share the experience of communities in the program to mobilize communities nationwide to work on youth homelessness.

“The Alliance is thrilled to receive this grant to end and prevent youth homelessness across Marion and Polk counties,’’ said Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark, Board Chair of the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance. “Seventy percent of our region’s homeless adults reported being homeless as a youth. Yet we have very limited resources for youth. There are no youth shelters in Polk and rural Marion counties, or Host Homes where families can shelter youth in their homes. This grant will be a game changer for us in turning around the lives of vulnerable youth experiencing abuse, addiction, poverty, sex trafficking, mental illness, and many other barriers to success.”

“Lane County’s award of a $3.3 million United States Housing and Urban Development Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grant to combat youth homelessness will immediately be put to work through a long-standing collaboration enabled by the Poverty and Homelessness Board, the formal entity which manages federal Continuum of Care funding,’’ said Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr, Chair of the Poverty and Homelessness Board. “Notably, our grant application evolved with direct assistance from youth with lived experience.  Lane County continues to identify and prioritize youth at risk through the annual Point in Time census of those experiencing homelessness in our County.  Local partners will include 15th Night and Looking Glass, both who work tirelessly to provide resources to youth who are at risk of becoming chronically homeless.  These organizations and others will be instrumental in the implementation of this project. The funds are a game changer for our collective efforts, and we are eager to work locally and nationally to create new strategies for preventing and ending youth homelessness.”

A web version of this release is here.