Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The best way to solve problems is together. That’s why earlier today the Multnomah County Board took action in partnership with the City of Portland to invest $38 million for new programs, services and staffing capacity to address our homelessness crisis. Specifically, these investments include:
- $18 million to add 400 additional shelter beds across the County, increasing our nightly shelter bed capacity to 2,150 beds;
- $6.5 million to expand the City of Portland’s Impact Reduction Program, which cleans up unsafe encampments;
- $4.85 million to expand storage and portable hygiene services for our houseless neighbors. A lack of storage is often cited as a reason some on our streets are reluctant to move into shelter;
- $2.5 million to enhance our behavioral health programs, which includes two to three new teams to provide services at identified agencies in Old Town in order to deal with escalating mental health issues in that community, as well as two new teams of wrap-around support specialists to work with those suffering from mental health issues who are housed in our motel shelters;
- $2 million to hire and provide retention incentives for employees who work with our homeless community, a key need as we work to retain and recruit new employees for an expanding system;
- $1.375 million for 20 to 25 new outreach workers who will prioritize working with people living in high-impact locations across the city, including Old Town Chinatown, as well as around current shelter locations;
- $650,000 to expand the Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit;
- $500,000 for trash pickups in dangerous terrain; and
- $405,000 to increase efforts to eradicate rodent infestations, including increased capacity for inspections and surveillance in downtown and the urban core.
While these investments, like all investments, will need time to show results, we have focused on investments where we expect to have impacts in weeks, not years. I know people are frustrated, but the situation on our streets is not unique among West Coast cities. What we are doing now is prioritizing our tools, resources, and commitment to help those most in need as quickly as we can. In addition to these investments, we also expanded the capacity of our gun dispossession and gun violence investigatory teams to address the deadly surge of gun violence our community has seen. We are also speeding up our work to transform the criminal justice system through our Transforming Justice Initiative by providing the resources needed to complete community engagement that will inform an improved, more equitable public safety system. Lastly, we’re partnering with the city of Portland and the private sector to provide grant funding to help our childcare providers obtain the capital assistance they need to reopen, open, or expand, which will help enable families with young children to return to work. I understand all too well the challenges families are facing finding childcare, and am hopeful that this funding with Preschool for All dollars will help address this issue. Getting big things done requires partnership, and I’m proud that our region is continuing to step up to deal with the crises we are facing.
In this together,
PS: You can read more about these investments here.
Cleaning Up Our Community
Last week I joined Metro Council President Lynn Peterson and Metro’s Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Team to clean up an area in North Portland that’s been overwhelmed with trash and abandoned vehicles. We worked collaboratively with the houseless individuals living in the area to distinguish between waste and personal belongings and respect their space, and we were able to clear away truck-fulls of garbage while respecting the dignity of those calling the area home. This site was one of many that too many people are using as a dumping ground, is a threat to public health, and creates an eyesore in our community, and as you read above, I’m focused on finding solutions that will quickly clean up our streets and take care of our most vulnerable.
You can learn more about the RID crew and report garbage illegally dumped on public spaces here.
Constituent Spotlight: Andrew Campbell
This month, we spoke with Andrew Campbell, a Mentor and Development Specialist at Multnomah County’s Health Department. Andrew serves as Chair on the Board of Directors for Word is Bond and as a committee member on the City of Portland’s Black Male Achievement Committee.
Andrew spoke with us about growing up in Portland and seeing his neighborhood in North and Northeast Portland change throughout his lifetime. After coming back from living in the South where he went to college and graduate school, Andrew saw his hometown and the issues here with a different lens.
Since moving back to Portland, Andrew continued his passion for mentoring Black men and young people by teaching them exercises to cope with stress and trauma. Andrew has applied his knowledge of community health to advocating for transportation justice within the Black community and other communities of color through his involvement with Multnomah County’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. Knowing too well the historic impacts of disinvestment and displacement, Andrew has built his career into one that advocates for Portland’s Black community, empowering them with the tools to model self-care and “fight the good fight.”
You can read our full interview here or check it out on Commissioner Vega Pederson’s Facebook page.
Reminder: Multnomah County renters who have applied for rental assistance are protected from eviction for 90 days if they provide proof of their application to their landlord.
If you receive an eviction notice, call 211 for immediate assistance.
Learn more & apply for rental assistance here.