What to do if you or a loved one becomes homeless

In Oregon, homelessness is a uniquely ubiquitous issue. Since 2020, the amount of unsheltered in Oregon has increased by 22%, one of the highest increases in the nation, often due to a combination of underfunded and understaffed housing programs combined with high rental costs leading to people living unhoused for longer.

Here in Keizer, 9.4%, or more than 3,600 residents, are in poverty, with more closer to poverty than they realize as the poverty line for Oregonian families is around $30,000 per year, as of 2024.

In some cases this means that either ourselves, or those close to us, could end up in a position of homelessness provided the right circumstances occur such as a car breakdown, an unforeseen expense like a dental visit or many other random, expensive life occurrences on top of the already heavy financial demands many have.

For those who become homeless, the process can happen quickly, however, to get out of that state and back into a home can take, for some, years.

Thankfully, there are a number of actions and resources available for those friends and loved ones who find themselves homeless.

First, being able to provide that friend or loved one with shelter can, in many cases, help alleviate the more intense physical, mental and emotional damage that being homeless can do.

In the event you are unable to, if you are willing to hold onto or help them regain important items, like a social security card, birth certificate as well as a driver’s license or state-issued ID is very helpful as these are crucial documents to have to apply for a job or for benefits like EBT from the state and applying for them can take long periods of time.

In some cases, those without homes may have access to a vehicle. While sleeping inside a vehicle is far from ideal, it is far different from someone who sleeps outside without a vehicle. Items like the Sleepsafe bed can aid those sleeping in their vehicle by providing a more comfortable and storable method of resting.

For instances where the weather gets colder, Cherriots bus transit will provide free rides to warming shelters. 

This is crucial as the extreme weather presents a major issue to those who are homeless and death due to exposure has become more pressing issue with the more extreme weather patterns being seen in the Willamette Valley area. 

There are age-specific resources available as well as resources for veterans such as the Tanner Project, located at 2933 Center St NE or domestic violence victims at the Center for Hope and Safety located at 605 Center St NE. 

For those who are seeking a place to take a shower, look to places like the YMCA, located at 685 Court St NE, or the Union Gospel Mission (UGM), located at 777 Commercial St NE. 

In addition to understanding what information those who are homeless need, it is as important to understand the robust network of homeless services available here in the Salem-Keizer area and where people should look to for more help. 

While there are many resources available, the most important part for anyone attempting to aid someone who is homeless is to get them in contact with some form of outreach worker from an organization. 

For many, homelessness occurs in gradual stages from being homeless but sleeping inside, being homeless but having a car, to being homeless without a car or shelter. 

It is imperative to maintain contact with people or put them into contact with an outreach worker throughout these various stages to ensure they are able to work their way back into housing rather than further away from it. 

Check out the following list for just a few resources available to aid those who are homeless. 

ARCHES/MWVCAA. Located at 2475 Center St NE. This organization, run by Jimmy Jones, offers numerous homeless services as well as rental assistance for low-income earners and Head Start programs. This organization manages the ARCHES Inn locations in Salem. They can be reached at 503-585-6232 or at their website at

SNAP/Food Stamps/Oregon Trail. Offices are located at 1660 Oak St SE. An easy and mostly online process, which can go faster for those with low to no income. Applications for these benefits can be completed online at or by going in-person to the offices. 

Church at the Park. Located in Salem, this nonprofit provides camping equipment and spaces for the homeless. Those interested in applying for a space can do so online at They have a physical location staffed by outreach workers at 2640 Portland Rd NE that is open from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekdays. 

Project ABLE. Located at 1599 State St. This nonprofit is geared towards aiding those experiencing mental health issues related to homelessness as well as the numerous other negative symptoms associated with it. They host a variety of events geared towards providing classes and help sessions geared towards aiding those with difficult mental issues. More information can be found at their website:

Social Security. Offices located at 1750 McGilchrist St SE #110. For those who find themselves homeless at a more elderly age, or are unable to work, it is best to begin the long process required to apply for social security benefits. Social security benefits can help provide more financial stability to those seeking more permanent shelter. Applications can be done in person or online at

Oxford Houses. Multiple locations. This project is a part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHA) and provides spaces for those dealing with addiction a place to say as they attempt to overcome it. While rent is not free, it is greatly reduced and there are 17 different communities around Salem

For a more complete guide of homeless resources, visit this Church at the Park resource guide.

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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