Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As many of you know, May is a busy month for the County Board of Commissioners. We are in the midst of our annual budget process, when we hear from every department about their proposed programs, budget, and priorities, as well as from members of the community about the services and needs most important to them. In total, we will hold roughly twenty work sessions and two public hearings before finalizing a $2.7 billion budget.
The work is challenging, as we wade through financial details, revenue forecasts, public testimony, service proposals, and more. This year is made more complicated by the (welcome) influx of federal relief funds that can only be spent in the next two years and on specific purposes related to the COVID-19 epidemic.
In the two public listening sessions, we heard from dozens of community members about much needed funding for violence prevention, homelessness services, addiction and mental health treatment, economic relief, air pollution regulation, and more. We heard impassioned pleas for action and emotional stories of struggle, and triumph. The testimony we hear is a powerful reminder of the importance of our social safety net and the positive role government can play in people’s lives. It’s a reminder of why we do this work, and why it matters so much.
Last week, I visited my neighborhood association - Hazelwood - and talked with not only constituents, but my friends and neighbors. Before joining the county commission, I served on the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association board for several years with many of the current members. I heard about the rampant gun violence ravaging our community, concerns about our houseless neighbors, and the need for neighborhood clean ups, small business assistance, and affordable child care.
These conversations help inform my thoughts as we finalize the county’s budget.
But I want to hear from you. If you were unable to attend one of the budget hearings, you can share your priorities with me by emailing email@example.com. Thus far, I am focused on stemming the surge of gun violence, providing additional resources for homelessness, reducing air pollution, and providing resources for community-based organizations. Share your thoughts with me on these and other issues.
The budget is scheduled to be adopted Thursday, June 3rd, and I’ll provide an update on the final budget thereafter.
In your service,
PS: You can read more about Chair Deborah Kafoury’s proposed budget, as well as specific county spending proposals, here.
Reopening our Community
Much is happening on the COVID-19 front, and nearly all of it is positive. Last Friday, Multnomah County submitted its application to reopen at low-risk status to the State of Oregon, and Governor Kate Brown agreed to move the county into low risk status beginning this Thursday, May 27th.
This remarkable progress in the fight against COVID-19 is due to our community’s focused efforts to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit a Multnomah County vaccine clinic at the Imago Dei eastside campus on SE 148th Avenue. This site has been administering hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines every day, and I was again encouraged to see people receiving this safe vaccine, and grateful to the county staff and volunteers working to administer these much needed doses.
This Saturday, May 29th, Multnomah County will open a new, larger vaccine clinic at the Fabric Depot site at 700 SE 122nd Avenue. That site, which is open from 8:30am-5:30pm, will expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine to more east Portland residents, including those ages 12-16 who are now eligible for vaccination. You can find more information about the site, which accepts walk-up appointments, here.
My office is working closely with the David Douglas School District and the Multnomah County Health Department to leverage the trusted role that our school systems play to communicate information about the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure every community member can receive a vaccination. The state of Oregon is also conducting several cash lottery drawings for those who are vaccinated by June 28th. You can read more about that opportunity here.
Post Budget Town-Hall
So far nearly one hundred constituents and organizations in my district alone have shared their feedback about the County’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget, and I welcome additional thoughts and comments (reminder: email firstname.lastname@example.org with your input).
On Wednesday, June 16th, I’ll be hosting a virtual forum about the County’s finalized budget. I’ll be taking questions about my priorities and what this budget will mean in the short- and long-term, as well as gaining helpful insight about what issues require additional focus.
So join me on June 16th, from 5-6:30 pm as a continuation of your advocacy efforts surrounding this year’s budget. Register here for my post-Budget Town Hall!
If you or someone you know is struggling to pay rent, they may be eligible for our community’s emergency rental assistance resources. Beginning this month, Oregon has opened applications for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Oregon residents with unpaid rent balances beginning March 13, 2020 or who have experienced a loss of employment due to the pandemic with household income at or below 80 percent of the Multnomah County Median Family Income are eligible to apply.
Learn more about the program and how to apply here.