Deaths among people experiencing homelessness rises to 88 in 2015

September 8, 2016


At least 88 people experiencing homelessness died in Multnomah County in 2015, the Multnomah County Health Department reports today.

The analysis by the Health Department is based on case investigations by the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office and Oregon State Medical Examiner and is produced in conjunction with Street Roots.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Dr. Paul Lewis, Multnomah County Health Officer, and Israel Bayer, executive director of Street Roots, will hold a media availability Friday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. at the Multnomah Building to discuss the findings.

The report is the fifth annual review conducted by the Health Department.

For the first time, the report includes a map that shows the deaths are dispersed throughout Multnomah County. Dr. Lewis said the cause of the deaths, suggest that virtually all the deaths were avoidable or premature, or both.

“Everyone needs basic shelter and security. These lives ended decades too soon, and for all the wrong reasons.’’

Israel Bayer, executive director of Street Roots, called the numbers a wake-up call.

“There's no reason that in a community that is thriving economically that hundreds of people should be dying on our streets isolated and alone and without a safe place to call home,’’ Bayer said. “ It's beyond tragic.’’ 

Photo courtesy Street Roots depicts a homeless person who has died in Multnomah County in recent years

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury said the report underscores the need for more affordable housing units along with more access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

“My thoughts are with the 88 families who will never be the same because of what happened on our streets,’’ the Chair said. “Short-term, shelters will protect some. But long term, only permanent housing and adequate health and mental health care will save lives.’’  

Media availability with Chair Kafoury, Dr. Lewis and Israel Bayer on Friday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m. Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne, Rm 635.

Contact: Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, Senior Communications Analyst, (503) 709-9858

Read the full Domicile Unknown report