New count finds 557 homeless in Umatilla, Morrow counties

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A tally of the homeless in four Eastern Oregon counties found 557 people without a permanent shelter — 10 times more than a year ago.

Advocates say the surge likely reflects a major undercount in last year’s point-in-time census.

Nearly all the homeless were in Umatilla County, which includes Hermiston and Pendleton — the most populous cities in Eastern Oregon. Homeless were also counted in Athena, Milton-Freewater and Echo.

Nearly 50 homeless people were found in Morrow County, mostly in Heppner. The other counties in the survey — Gilliam and Wheeler — had no documented homeless population.

Case managers for Community Action Program of East Central Oregon tell the East Oregonian newspaper that the organization added more volunteers to get a better picture of the area’s homeless situation. They went to where the homeless gather, from churches to The Salvation Army to the banks of the Umatilla River.