City of Salem Efforts to Reduce Homelessness

The Salem City Council recognizes homelessness as a critical problem in our community and made reducing it a priority for 2018. We’re actively working with partners to reduce hardships that lead to homelessness of our residents and families with children and increase access to affordable housing for those at-risk of becoming homeless. We’re taking a multipronged and collaborative approach and adapting best practices to fit our community. Because a community-wide response is required to address ongoing issues, we need your help too!

The City is actively helping the homeless and working to reduce homelessness in Salem through the following programs:

Homeless Rental Assistance Program

Launched in July 2017, the City of Salem, through the Salem Housing Authority, committed $1.4 million dollars to support the Homeless Rental Assistance Program. Through this and other partnerships, the program links “hardest to house” homeless individuals to housing, food, furnishings, and social services. With a goal to house 100 of these individuals in its first year, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program is the largest “Housing First” program in Oregon.

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 preexisting 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.

Police Behavioral Health Detachments

The Salem Police Department has officers who are specially trained to help people experiencing a mental health crisis. These officers also work with agencies in both Marion and Polk Counties.

Regional Coordination

Following the recommendation of the Mid-Valley Homeless Initiative, the City of Salem contributed $45,000 toward the hiring of a regional coordinator at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments. This person is responsible for planning and coordinating programs and projects to prevent and reduce homelessness with our region’s cities, counties, agencies, and services providers.

Downtown Homelessness Task Force

The Task Force comprises individuals with many experiences and roles in the community, including City leaders, business owners, service providers, property owners, residents, and advocates for the homeless. They are working together to identify specific, measurable, time-bound solutions that will make downtown Salem inviting and welcoming to all Salem residents and visitors.

Low-Income assistance

The City of Salem partners with the City of Keizer to receive and distribute federal grants that fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership. These grants also providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.

The City of Salem has programs to assist with utility and sewer bills, and awards roughly $400,000 each year in grants to local non-profits that provide emergency or essential services to the most vulnerable populations with the highest need.

100-Day Youth Challenge

The City participated in the 100-day Youth Challenge and contributed $12,000 toward this program that works toward reducing youth homelessness in our community.

Sobering Center

The City of Salem is one of several agencies developing a safe, clean, and supervised space to become sober and connect to further treatment. The Oregon legislature and governor have provided start-up funding for a sobering center in Salem to relieve some of the burden on our regional hospital and jail, and connect individuals with treatment resources. The sobering center will open by early 2019.

Affordable Housing

The lack of affordable housing is part of the homelessness problem. Some who are homeless just need an affordable place to call home. The Salem Housing Authority is developing 86 units of low-income housing and works with developers to encourage construction of affordable housing.

Through urban renewal funds, the City is supporting the construction of 188 affordable apartments on Portland Road. Finally, the City Council created a tax incentive for qualifying non-profit owners of low-income housing.

Community Support and Partnership is Critical

Homelessness in Salem is a complex problem that requires long-term, committed partnerships with public and non-profit agencies and organizations across the City, Marion County, and Polk County. We thank the many non-profit, private, and government organizations that have joined together in seeking proactive solutions.

The Salem community’s support is critical to helping the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. Please 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.

Contact us

Kenny LarsonCommunications and Community Engagement Manager
Monday–Friday
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 220
Salem OR 97301
Phone: 
Sign up for mailing list: 
Community Connections eNewsletter
Follow us
Facebook: 
City of Salem
Twitter: 
@cityofsalem
YouTube: 
City of Salem