Prof and student write about homelessness for The Oregonian

There’s a perception that Yamhill County is the place where people go to sip a glass of pinot noir. However, there is something other than vineyards growing in the heart of Oregon’s wine country.

Homelessness is growing here, too, say sociology Professor Rob Gardner and student Lacey Dean ’11, who wrote a guest column for The Oregonian. Students at Linfield College volunteer each year with homeless counts initiated by county agencies.

“When people think of the homeless they often think of single men sleeping under the Burnside Bridge,” Gardner says.

In the agricultural suburbs of Portland, it has a different, less visible face. While wine country tourists may not see men slumping in doorways downtown, there are families who bed down in a neighbor’s barn and women who sip coffee in all-night diners to keep warm.

This year in Yamhill County, Linfield students and other volunteers counted 464 homeless individuals, up 15 percent over last year. This figure doesn’t include an estimated 200 children in this county who are thought to be homeless.

“Although often out of sight, the homeless in Yamhill County are not out of mind,” Gardner says. “Engaged citizens are resolved to end homelessness within 10 years by cultivating a ‘community of care.’” Eventually, he says, homelessness can be turned around.

“It only takes one person to start a ripple of change,” Dean says. “Neither I, nor anyone else, can really grasp or fix every homeless woman, man or child, but we can start using our resources and our beautiful human ability to create connections and to find the small solutions that will create the big solution.”

The Huffington Post linked to The Oregonian column, along with other national and local news sites and blogs.

Guest editorial in The Oregonian

Sociology and Anthropology Studies at Linfield

Community Service at Linfield