Launched in July 2017, Salem’s Homeless Rental Assistance Program links “hardest to house” homeless individuals to housing, food, furnishings, and social services. With a goal to house 100 in its first year, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program is the largest “Housing First” first-year initiative in Oregon. Last week, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program reached its goal to house 100 of Salem’s “hardest to house” chronically homeless individuals.
The “hardest to house” homeless population often deals with untreated mental illness, addiction, and chronic health conditions worsened by long periods of homelessness. In addition, some face barriers to housing, such as criminal history, evictions, and poor rental history. The Homeless Rental Assistance Program combines rental assistance, intensive case management, and funding to reduce these and other barriers to success.
The City of Salem, through the Salem Housing Authority, committed $1.4 million dollars to the Homeless Rental Assistance Program in 2017. Combined with a $150,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust Foundation and $50,000 from Salem Health, and in-kind support from social service agencies, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program helps individuals find appropriate permanent housing for up to one year. Upon graduation, each Homeless Rental Assistance Program client receives a housing voucher from Salem Housing Authority to ensure long-term housing stability. Read the 2017-18 Homeless Rental Assistance Program report to learn more and see how you can contribute to its continued success.
Individuals, businesses, and organizations wishing to support the Homeless Rental Assistance Program should go to the Salem Housing Authority website for more information. The first donation to the program was received in July 2018 from 8-year old Abel Najera-Banuelos. Abel presented the Salem Housing Commission with $100 earned through his lemonade stand. Learn more about, or donate to, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program.
“We have built a strong foundation to address homelessness,” said Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett, “But we need more individuals in the community to step-up and join the effort. We are thankful to everyone who is already chipping in.”
The Homeless Rental Assistance Program needs the help of rental owners. Measures are in place to reduce financial risk to landlords. If you have housing available to rent, and would like to learn more about the program, please call 503‑588‑6368 to speak with the Salem Housing Authority. You can also donate to non-profit organizations, provide space for services, serve on volunteer boards, volunteer, invest in affordable housing, or rent an apartment to an at-risk tenant. Your help is vital and greatly appreciated.
Homelessness in Salem is a complex problem that requires long-term, committed partnerships with public, non-profit, and private organizations across the City, Marion County, and Polk County. Salem is taking a collaborative approach and adapting best practices to fit our community. Working with its partners, the City of Salem is increasing access to affordable housing for our community's homeless and those at-risk of becoming homeless.
The City is actively helping the homeless and working to reduce homelessness in Salem. Learn more about the Downtown Homelessness Task Force, affordable housing, plans for a sobering center, and available assistance for low-income people in our community.