Budget Timeline


Yesterday, the Chair released her proposed executive budget which signals the official start of our budget season and allows the Board of County Commissioners to begin their deliberations and engage with the community. Then on June 6th we are scheduled to finalize and adopt the 2025 Budget. 

As I begin my eighth and final budget season, I remain committed to bringing home funding for East County to address homelessness, substance use disorders and behavioral/mental health issues. I am pleased to report that those efforts continue to pay dividends. For the City of Gresham, the proposed budget includes an increase of  $600,000 to expand services for outreach, case management and housing placement to complement the existing $260,154 that we currently fund for Gresham’s Homeless Service team. And for the cities of Wood Village, Fairview and Troutdale, $300,000 has been included in the proposed budget to expand outreach and rent assistance.

Passing a $3.96 billion annual budget is one of my most important responsibilities. And as we begin this six week process, we hope that you will engage with us by attending one of our public hearings on May 8, May 15 or May 29, 2024.

I know the budget process can be a bit overwhelming which is why I am so pleased that we now have an online tool called Tableau Public where you can access the budget easily. Visit here to learn more about the budget process and how to participate.

The Loneliness Epidemic

As we strive to address some of our society’s most pressing challenges, it is equally if not more important to work on the root cause of these symptoms.

In Johann Hari’s book “Lost Connections” he describes depression and anxiety as smoke billowing out of a house on fire, and that we wouldn’t just get a big fan to blow the smoke away to put the fire out. It’s been reported that Gen Z (age 16-24) are the loneliest generation. Our society has never been more lonely, more isolated and more sick. From homelessness, to substance use disorders, to behavioral/mental health issues - our physiology is screaming out an urgent message that something is wrong.

It’s easy to see the symptoms on our streets, in our emergency rooms, in our jails and in our morgues. And while it is vital to continue our work on the Fentanyl State of Emergency Declaration, our Overdose Prevention and Response Plan, and our Homelessness Response Action Plan I can’t help but ask what drives someone to use drugs and alcohol, join a gang, become violent or to live on the streets? 

Fortunately, we’ve become more trauma-informed by shifting the question from “What’s wrong with me?” to “What happened to me?” Most of us who work in human/social services are familiar with ACES which stands for “Adverse Childhood Experiences” and is a result of a CDC-Kaiser Permanente Study conducted in 1995-1997 that uncovered links between childhood trauma, chronic disease, and mental health issues. Anyone can take this quick 10-question survey here to find out their score. 

A sense of love and belonging is nearly as important as the need for physical safety in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While safety is a need we all easily recognize, belonging is one that we don’t often discuss and we rarely prioritize it. Sebastian Junger, the author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging wrote: “We are not good to each other. Our tribalism is to an extremely narrow group of people: our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. Our society is alienating, technical, cold, and mystifying. Our fundamental desire, as human beings, is to be close to others, and our society does not allow for that.”

Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ Community First Village! believes that homelessness is caused by a profound loss of family. They are not just a housing provider for previously chronically houseless individuals. They have created a beautiful, dignified village where people have found a sense of belonging, a sense of community, a sense of family - a tribe. Human beings are meant to live in tribes. Our brains are hardwired that way. 

When trying to solve a problem, the most critical question we must ask ourselves is, what are we trying to solve for? Are we just trying to blow the smoke away or are we prepared to extinguish the fire?


Lori Stegmann