Dear Friends and Neighbors -
This week, the Multnomah County board passed a budget focused on homelessness, behavioral health, and violence prevention.
This budget will nearly double our shelter capacity from before the pandemic to nearly 2,700 shelter beds, funding congregate shelters, motel shelters, and alternative settings, such as villages, providing options for those living on our streets.
It will help more than 1,450 people move from homelessness back into housing, using case management and rental assistance. This budget provides more than 1,700 units of supportive housing for adults and families escaping chronic homelessness. It sets aside $15 million to secure new properties that can be used as spaces for shelter, day centers or treatment, motels, shared housing and other strategic real property investments — all of which are long-term investments that will help us better serve vulnerable neighbors. Importantly, it bolsters our data collection and program evaluation tools, to make sure that we are supporting programs that work. And I championed an amendment to support better community outreach when locating shelters.
This budget devotes $15.5 million to the intersectionality between homelessness and behavioral health. It funds the opening of our downtown Behavioral Health Resource Center this fall, which will offer a drop-in day center, behavioral health shelter beds, bridge housing and multiple peer-led services.
It pilots a program that provides permanent supportive housing for up to 50 people experiencing homelessness who have been identified as frequent users of the homeless services, emergency healthcare and criminal justice systems.
It increases funding for a program that connects people experiencing homelessness with substance use disorders to treatment, detox and recovery services, with a focus on culturally specific care coordination for African American, Latinx and LGBTQIA2S+ clients.
It expands vital mental health services for children and young adults by adding case management to grades K-12 across our school-based health system.
On the gun violence front, this budget will pilot a program that I fought for, employing stipends to help people on supervision and/or people committing acts of gun violence build economic stability that steers them away from the feeling that they need to participate in dangerous behaviors. It also funds a partnership with a community-based program to engage young Black men in civic education and open up pathways to paid work experience in public service.
Importantly, this budget continues our march toward Preschool for All. More than 600 children are slated to be enrolled this fall in high-quality, culturally responsive, inclusive preschool from 36 providers across 48 locations. This budget increases the number of Early Childhood mental health consultants who can provide a comprehensive continuum of culturally relevant and responsive mental health services to children and their families in Preschool for All sites. It also set aside resources to support facilities and workforce development to ensure that we grow our pipeline of early educators and preschool spaces needed to provide universal access.
This budget also furthers our climate resiliency work. It funds the replacement of wood stoves with heat pumps, to provide better heating and improved air quality, and pilots a program in east County to provide portable air conditioners to 1,000 households who are unable to afford one or who lack the necessary transportation to secure one, or can’t get help from their landlord. The city of Portland is expected to extend the same in Portland. The program will also provide 8,000 to 10,000 cooling kits to people who have emergency needs during a heat wave.
Our budget marks a milestone, not a finish line. We now turn to ramping up what is working, while tracking and assessing our progress on new investments to ensure that they are having a positive impact. But I am pleased with these investments, as they mirror my priorities and what I’ve heard from all of you.
In addition to the investments made above, I successfully fought to fund the following:
- Abortion Access Fund: With other states curtaining the right to the full array of reproductive healthcare services, Oregon is seeing an increase in people traveling from out of state to access reproductive healthcare. This increased demand could reduce access and cause delays. This funding will help ensure access to safe and timely reproductive health care for between 300 to 400 people.
- East County Small Business Repair Fund: Vandalism of east county businesses has increased threefold from 2019 to 2021. This fund, modeled on the City of Portland’s, will provide up to $5,000 for small businesses in east county that have suffered from vandalism.
- Increased gun dispossession: We all know that gun violence has increased dramatically over the last 3 years. Last year, there were more than 1,400 shootings, with nearly 450 of them resulting in injuries. To address this, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has worked with partners on removing illegal firearms. In 2021, 863 firearms were seized,up from 267 in 2019. We’re setting aside funding to expand space needed to safely store and/or dispose of weapons.
Protecting Reproductive Health Care
Last week, I led the Board in taking two actions that will reinforce reproductive rights in Multnomah County: I partnered with Commissioner Susheela Jayapal to sponsor a resolution affirming Multnomah County’s commitment to reproductive justice and ensuring we protect access to abortion in our community; and I championed a successful budget amendment providing $200,000 to organizations working to ensure access to reproductive health care services.
With the Supreme Court on the verge of repealing Roe v Wade, the constitutional right to abortion is facing it’s greatest threat. I am committed to ensuring that access to reproductive care is never threatened in our community.
For this month’s constituent spotlight, we interviewed Ann McMullen. Ann is a resident of the Hazelwood neighborhood, a board member on the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association (HNA), and a huge fan of the Oregon coast. Originally from the Midwest, she and her husband chose Hazelwood for its affordability, proximity to public transportation, shopping centers, and parks, as well as the beautiful architecture.
Following in the footsteps of her parents who taught her the importance of community engagement, Ann is a dedicated advocate for her east Portland neighbors. She is working to make sure that solutions proposed by the local government in Hazelwood, like Menlo Park Safe Rest Village, will bring long-lasting benefits to the community.
During our conversation, Ann shared how the HNA is working with trusted networks to uplift voices from communities of color, immigrant and refugee communities, and new residents of Hazelwood in the neighborhood association’s work. Ann dreams of a Hazelwood that retains and supports the existing neighborhood with the addition of reenergizing community spaces that combine work, live, and play. Ann believes that Hazelwood is one of the most interesting and vibrant neighborhoods in Portland–her plan is to work hard to make sure city planners, elected officials, and other community members see the beauty she does.
Read our interview with Ann McMullen to learn about the HNA’s contributions to its community, Ann’s favorite spots in east Portland, and a fun fact that we bet you didn’t know. Thank you, Ann, for your work and for speaking with us!
In the Community
Last week, I gathered with friends, elected officials, and community members to congratulate the Coalition of Communities of Color on 20 years(!) of work fighting for equity in our communities. CCC has been instrumental in shaping racial, economic, and environmental policy in Oregon and has built a robust coalition of many culturally-specific CBOs who work together to address issues most urgently and disproportionately affecting BIPOC communities. I am proud to partner with the Coalition of Communities of Color and grateful for their work.
I also celebrated the grand opening of Rosewood Initiative’s new community hub on SE 141st and SE Stark. The Rosewood Initiative worked hard to purchase this building and give their community a long-awaited place to develop community-led programming and hold events. Congratulations to the Rosewood Initiative for this new space!
Last Saturday, I participated in the March for Our Lives with students, parents, and educators through the streets of downtown Portland demanding an end to gun violence. Marches were taking place all over the country led by the survivors from the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. I stand in solidarity with the majority of Americans who are enraged by the devastating surge of gun violence in our schools and communities. On Saturday, it felt good to add my voice to the chorus of those calling for stricter gun restrictions and a ban on assault weapons. Enough is enough.
Join a Multnomah County Community Budget Advisory Committee
The Office of Community Involvement is now accepting applications for new Community Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) members. CBACs are groups of community members that review and make recommendations on county departmental budgets and operations, and are one of the key ways the county receives community input on its budget priorities.
No budgeting or financial expertise is necessary. Just an interest in the programs and budget process of the County and availability to attend meetings.
To apply and for more information, visit multco.us/oci/cbacs
Applications received by 11:59pm on Thursday, July 7th will be reviewed first. Following the deadline, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as needed.