There are roughly 500 homeless individuals in Salem categorized as “most vulnerable” and “hardest to house.” These individuals often have severe mental, behavioral, and medical ailments that make it exceptionally difficult for them to achieve housing stability. The City of Salem and the
Salem Housing Authority have started a program to house the hardest to house. Managed by the Salem Housing Authority, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program started July 1, 2017. Work began immediately to bring community partners, such as the
Community Action Agency, and landlords on-board. The first homeless individuals were enrolled in the program this summer.
Combining $1.4 million in City funds with $1.1 million in federal funding and in-kind support from social service agencies, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program helps individuals find appropriate transitional housing for up to one year. Enrollees receive case management, medical assistance, and life-skills training necessary to become self-sufficient. The hardest to house lack skills necessary for basic education and employment. They do not have the means to pay rent or security deposits. The resources provided will be tailored to the specific needs of the individual. Right now there are 20 individuals enrolled in the program, with many more waiting for housing to become available.
The Homeless Rental Assistance Program is data-driven and draws on best practices gleaned from cities and non-profit organizations from all over the country. Individuals are evaluated to determine their need for assistance and their readiness to enter the program. We have established metrics to determine success. The goal is to have 100 “hardest-to-house” individuals in permanent affordable housing by the end of June 2018.
The 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.
Homelessness is a long-term problem that will take long-range planning and community assistance. City Council made affordable housing and homelessness a priority issue in the City’s
Strategic Plan. Once the Strategic Plan is finished later this year, it will provide a framework for policies that will guide future efforts to alleviate homelessness in Salem.
You can find out more about the Strategic Planning Initiative by visiting the project page.
—Steve Powers, Salem City Manager