This year’s budget for the Joint Office of Homeless Services – $255.5 million – is the largest yet. It will offer unprecedented support for expanding behavioral health services, shelter capacity, supportive housing and street outreach teams.
The scale, scope and range of programs made possible by these combined investments reflect years of innovation and design, and they speak to deliberate and growing collaboration with County departments, service providers and local governments.
Here are some key takeaways from this year’s spending plan:
Year 2 of the Supportive Housing Services Measure presents a generational opportunity to better integrate behavioral healthcare and homelessness services
The Joint Office is launching more than 10 new programs to address behavioral health, from outreach to shelter to transitional housing to permanent supportive housing. This $25 million set of investments, including new and ongoing programs, includes:
- Shelter beds and bridge housing at the first-of-its-kind Behavioral Health Resource Center, set to open this fall in downtown Portland.
- A motel-based shelter program, called Cultivating Community, that serves people with severe behavioral health needs who have struggled in other shelter spaces.
- A new behavioral-health-focused housing placement team.
This budget supports a major expansion in shelter capacity, alongside work to provide housing – demonstrating a both/and approach to ending homelessness
Shelter, including operating and capital costs, will receive $130 million this year – more than half of the Joint Office’s overall budget. The Joint Office will support a maximum capacity of 2,418 adult shelter beds. That’s a nearly five-fold expansion since the state of emergency was declared in 2015, and almost double the number since 2018.
- In an ongoing transformation of the shelter system, funding will support nearly 700 beds of capacity in alternative (village-style) shelters, with an additional 500 beds budgeted for motel shelters.
- The Supportive Housing Services Measure is contributing almost $26 million to shelter capital and operations, making it the second largest funding source, behind the County’s general fund ($40 million).
- Housing placements reaching people in shelter are another way to increase capacity, by turning beds over more quickly. A new $5.6 million investment will help house more people staying in motel shelters.
This budget expands the Joint Office’s successful work supporting thousands of people to end their homelessness – and stay housed – every year
Through the first nine months of FY 2022, the Joint Office and its contracted partners supported 2,770 people’s move out of homelessness and back into permanent housing (including 500 people housed through the Supportive Housing Services Measure).
Those newly housed community members were among 11,470 people in that same period who were receiving housing supports or enrolled in a housing program. Those numbers will grow in FY 2023 thanks to new programs, including:
- The Westwind – a downtown development purchased in part with proceeds from the sale of the former Wapato jail – will open this year. The program will provide supportive housing and culturally specific services for people with significant behavioral health challenges.
- Supportive housing at the Joyce, with services tailored for people with severe behavioral health challenges who identify as LGBTQIA2S+.
- $3 million for a master-leasing pilot project, along with continued funding for the kinds of incentives and landlord recruitment efforts that make up Move-In Multnomah.
This budget will help us meet more people where they are, by growing and supporting our community’s pool of street outreach workers
Annual ongoing funding for street outreach will nearly double, growing by $5.3 million to reach a total of $12 million in FY 2023. Thanks to this infusion of ongoing funds, this budget preserves an expansion in navigation and outreach that began last fall when Multnomah County and the City of Portland joined together to invest surplus Business Income Tax revenue.
These funds will support:
- 20 new Navigation Team outreach workers
- 4 new culturally specific workers for the Coordinated Housing Assessment Team, which is a main entry to the Joint Office’s Coordinated Access by-name list of adult households who’ve applied for housing.
- 3 new mental health street outreach workers
- And a new program manager at the Joint Office to lead work around Safety on the Streets programming and serve as a street outreach coordinator.
This budget doesn’t stand pat; it looks to the future by identifying new approaches to ending homelessness
- Data-driven supportive housing: A pilot program will build from Multnomah County’s Frequent Utilizer System Engagement (FUSE) research project, which found people in supportive housing were far less likely to return to the behavioral health and legal systems. Up to 50 people identified as the most “frequent users” of those systems will receive tailored supportive housing.
- Cross-department Medicaid coordination: In new a partnership between the Joint Office and Department of County Human Services, mobile workers will coordinate with Joint Office outreach and shelter programs to support assessment, benefits enrollment, and support services enrollment for clients working with the Aging, Disability & Veterans Services Division and Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Division.
- Helping people after supportive housing: A new move-on program will free up existing supportive housing apartments by transitioning people who no longer need ongoing wraparound support services into traditional rental assistance programs. This investment is projected to free up 100 supportive housing apartments.
By the numbers
Total Joint Office budget: $255.5 million
Supportive Housing Services: $107.1 million
County General Fund: $59.8 million
City of Portland: $45.4 million
Total American Rescue Plan: $27 million
Other federal/state/local funds: $13.3 million
Program categories (note: some categories overlap, such as behavioral health and supportive housing):
Behavioral health: $25 million
Shelter: $130 million (includes $53 million in capital)
Housing: $106 million
Outreach: $12 million