Advocate

Homelessness in Washington County is largely invisible. It's up to community members like you to help educate our social circles and come together as neighbors to help address this issue. In addition to the frequently asked questions below, lots of information can be found on this website. Want to talk more? Email us: info@homeplateyouth.org 
 

Short Answers to Big Questions

We at HomePlate hear a lot of really great and complex questions - and if you get involved you might hear these questions too. So here are a few (short) answers on some very big questions.  
 
Oh, are there homeless youth in Washington County? Yes, homelessness in Washington County looks very different than it does in downtown Portland.  The homeless situations they are in span the spectrum: At one end there are youth who are homeless and are sleeping outside and at the other end there are youth who may still be with their family, but homeless with their family and moving around but the largest portion of the youth we serve are what we call “couch-surfing” which means they can stay with a friend for a week and when they out stay their welcome they move on to another friend’s couch, maybe they can go home for a week but it is a very unstable moving around all the time not sure where they will sleep or how long they can stay. We served 983 last year and many more are not accessing our services or other programs. According to a statewide research study it is estimated that 1 in every 12 youth actually accesses services, with this estimation there are 24,000 homeless youth in Oregon - and  Washington County has the second highest population of homeless youth in the state (Beaverton School District has the highest rate of all school districts in the state).
 
Where are their parents? We serve youth ages 12 to 24. Many youth are still connected with their parents and/or families. For many of them “home” has not been a healthy or supportive place and they are trying to find other support systems. Oftentimes the parents of the youth are in unstable situations themselves and can no longer financially support their children after they turn 18.
 
Where do the youth go the other nights? HomePlate is only a drop-in program on Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday nights from 6-8pm, they cannot sleep here. The other nights of the week the youth are staying with friends or hanging out at transit centers and just looking for something to do.
 
Why are youth homeless? There are a myriad of reasons that contribute to youth experiencing instability. From our experience we see that it usually comes from family homelessness or instability, no income and loss of employment, alcohol or drug abuse, or a situation that is not acceptable to the parents such as coming out as gay or lesbian or becoming pregnant.
 
Do youth "choose" to be homeless?  Youth have a vast array of experiences many of which involve trauma and abuse in numerous forms. Youth who leave a house and stay on the streets or with friends are often escaping a dangerous situation and making this choice for survival purposes. Whether it's emotional, physical or other forms of abuse, youth at HomePlate are resilient and we welcome and applaud them for reaching out to the community at HomePlate.
 
Are all youth who come homeless? No, although our target population is youth in homeless situations, any youth who is hungry (for food, companionship or support) is welcome.
 
How many youth come to HomePlate? Since opening in 2005 we’ve seen anywhere from 15-70 youth come per night - youth and average about 25 per night. Lately we’ve seen higher numbers at our new Beaverton location.
 
Do you see the same youth come back every week? Yes, since the main way we are able to help so many youth take the next step is by building trusting relationships with them. This takes time. The majority of youth we see come back on a consistent basis. We have heard them say “HomePlate is my family.” That said, almost every week we meet new youth.
 
What resources are available to youth? Unfortunately there are many gaps in services in Washington County, however, some strong resource partners we work with are Boys and Girls Aid for shelter and transitional living, Community Action for family shelter and rent assistance. The Washington County Essential Health Clinic offers low-income residents free health care. We work closely with GED programs such as Miller Ed and for employment we look to the Work Source Center to aid in the job readiness and placement process. We also partner closely with the School District Homeless Liaisons, a federally mandated and funded position in each school. Find more resources.
 
Where are the youth from? 95% of the youth we serve are from Washington County. While services exist in downtown Portland it is important for us to serve the youth in their own community. For many youth going to downtown Portland has been an unhealthy and unsafe environment.