In late June, Multnomah County was invited to participate in a new initiative led by the Reimagine Oregon Project — a newly formed group of Black-led organizations, leaders, activists and organizers — to convert the building momentum of the ongoing protests into tangible steps toward dismantling systemic racism in Oregon. The group convened jurisdictions throughout Oregon, including Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, and Metro, to craft a concrete plan of action to make real and lasting change, backed by the jurisdictions’ commitments to specific policy actions. Multnomah County’s policy commitments, as well as our progress toward delivering them, are outlined here.

*Last updated March 2022

Status Key:
In Research: Assessing feasibility and best practices

In Discussion: Engaging stakeholders

In Progress: Implementation is underway

Complete: Commitment fulfilled

Police Divestments and Community Safety

Commitment Status Status Note

Defund $50 million from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

Reimagine Oregon requested this divestment to help end the existing carceral state and move resources towards more community-centered efforts that support health and well-being.

In Progress

The Board of County Commissioners made its first action to divest from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) in June 2020 by adopting an FY 2021 budget that decreased its funding by $1.8 million. That resulted in the closure of one jail dorm, and those dollars are currently reinvested in programs that support diversion, re-entry and repairing the harm of jail system involvement. 

The County is also working on a long-term visioning effort to reimagine the criminal legal system, known as Transforming Justice. Its goal is to both reduce the footprint of the current system and grow supports such as treatment and housing, while leading with race throughout the process.

Divert from Homeless Outreach and Program Engagement (HOPE) Team

MCSO’s Homeless Outreach and Programs Engagement (HOPE) team was established in 2017 to help connect houseless individuals to services and other community resources. Reimagine Oregon has requested divestment from this program out of concerns that regular contact with law enforcement furthers trauma for vulnerable individuals living outside.

In Discussion

Multnomah County gathered information over a year-long period to further understand the impact of the HOPE team in East County and better assess if the model should continue in its current form. Chair Deborah Kafoury and her staff spoke with representatives from East County jurisdictions about potential changes and gathered their feedback. 

During this past year, the HOPE team started working with a Navigation team and behavioral health specialists. We are continuing to monitor the impact of adding team members who do not identify themselves as law enforcement.

Defund East Multnomah Juvenile Gang Enforcement Team

The East Multnomah Juvenile Gang Enforcement Team program was supported by state and federal funding, with Multnomah County serving as a “pass through.” The County supported its defunding. 

Complete

The State Legislature removed funding in the summer of 2020.

Eliminate funding for School Resource Officer programs

Multnomah County provided half the funding for a School Resource Officer (SRO) in the Corbett School District. Reimagine Oregon recommended officers across multiple school districts be replaced with restorative justice practitioners who emphasize trauma-informed responses and mental health supports.

Complete

The Reynolds School Board decided not to renew their contract with MCSO and there are currently no School Resource Officers in the school district. We understand there has been some review of this decision by the school board, but no policy change has been proposed. The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners also eliminated its half of funding for the resource officer in Corbett as part of the FY 2021 budget process. The Corbett School District is currently determining whether they will maintain a part-time position.

Ensure all MCSO personnel comply with sanctuary from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency

Reimagine Oregon wants to ensure the Sheriff’s Office adheres to policies making Multnomah County a “sanctuary county.”

Complete The Sheriff’s Office adheres to Oregon law and court cases that prohibit the active sharing of information between deputies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents.

Duty to intervene protocol to stop excessive force

Reimagine Oregon requested that multiple jurisdictions adopt a policy that requires law enforcement officers to intervene if they see a fellow officer using excessive force. The Oregon State Legislature took this up as part of their summer 2020 Special Session on Police Accountability. Multnomah County was in favor of this change

Complete

Status note: House Bill 4205 requires officers to intervene when they witness misconduct, which includes “unjustified or excessive force,” unless they cannot do it safely, and to report misconduct to a supervisor. Additionally, Multnomah County held a board briefing in October 2020 to learn more about the training programs within the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. We are analyzing use of force, trauma and bias training, among others. 

MCSO is drafting policies to incorporate the new laws into the agency and working through these changes with labor representatives. Training will begin once those policies are implemented

Eliminate investment in and/or resource commitment to transit/TriMet policing program

MCSO receives funding from TriMet for nine officers to work with the transportation agency and provide a law enforcement presence and response along the system, including trains, buses, and facilities in the Metro area. The work includes bike patrols, drug enforcement, houseless outreach and investigating crimes committed on TriMet property. 

In Discussion

The Portland Police Bureau served as the lead agency in charge of managing regional security for TriMet for decades, up until the summer of 2020. At that time, they began a process to end that role and remove all PPB officers assigned to the system. Simultaneously, TriMet began a significant examination of their own public safety presence on the transit system. During this transition, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office was approached to act as the lead regional law enforcement agency to ensure continuity of services. 

TriMet convened a Blue Ribbon Committee made up of safety, security and equity experts to re-examine transit security in 2020. The final recommendations were shared in early 2021, and made a number of recommendations for advancing public safety across TriMet through community-informed strategies. 

During subsequent discussions with TriMet and MCSO, the County worked to ensure that our expertise, as well our values of equity and transparency, could inform the implementation of this report. For example, Multnomah County has agreed to help provide technical assistance and co-create a behavioral health response team for riders experiencing mental health and/or substance use disorder crises. The individual assigned to coordinate that assistance has been hired and has begun that work. 

There is also a new advisory committee to provide feedback for TriMet on matters of public safety. 

Finally, the Board of County Commissioners has moved to receive timely updates by requesting regular briefings on transit security data from MCSO. Aninitial presentation was given to the board on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. The latest briefing on the status of the behavioral health response team took place on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

Contribute funding to Black-led safety alternatives development effort

Reimagine Oregon has asked all participating jurisdictions to contribute a total of $2.5 million in funding for the establishment of an ongoing Black community-led workgroup that will develop community safety alternatives. Policy proposals will be developed and deliberated for the 2021 legislative session and beyond.

Complete The Board of County Commissioners approved $100,000 in funding to the Reimagining Safety initiative, a Black community-led workgroup that will develop community safety alternatives; The contract was executed this year. Multnomah County will remain engaged with Reimagining Safety as the group holds community listening sessions and produces further policy recommendations.

Review County District Attorney’s Office policies and protocols

Mike Schmidt was appointed district attorney by Gov. Kate Brown to complete his predecessor’s term. His official term started on January 1, 2021.

DA Schmidt’s transition team will review all policy areas within the first six months of finishing out the former DA’s term. Policy areas include, but are not limited to police accountability, decriminalizing houselessness, conviction integrity, ending mass incarceration and ending cash bail.

In Progress N/A

Housing

Commitment Status Status Note

Hold jurisdictions accountable to Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and invest in stronger Fair Housing testing and enforcement

Reimagine Oregon is requesting that Multnomah County and its cities, along with Metro, be held accountable for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandate to “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing” by ending racial segregation from opportunity, providing community development and investment without displacement, and ending discrimination and fair housing violations through robust testing and enforcement by Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries.

Reimagine Oregon is also requesting that the County invest in stronger Fair Housing Testing in the private market and invest in enforcement mechanisms when fair housing laws are violated. 

In Progress

In the FY22 County budget, Chair Kafoury proposed, and the Board of Commissioners approved, $110,000 for Fair Housing audit testing in East County cities and enforcement of Fair Housing violations. Multnomah County has now executed a contract with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon (FHCO) to conduct this work. FHCO will first focus on race and national origin as the two protected classes to be tested.

In working with Home Forward to build new affordable housing in the City of Troutdale (funded by the County’s allocation from the Metro bond), the three jurisdictions will ensure the project complies with all applicable rules, affirmatively furthering fair housing.

The County continues to contribute to Fair Housing as an existing member of the Portland Consortium, the local body responsible for submitting the “Analysis of Impediments” to HUD under the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision of the Fair Housing Act.

Multnomah County is also currently working with FHCO to conduct Fair Housing testing in the East County cities.

Develop “Right to Stay in Place” policy for East County residents

Reimagine Oregon is requesting a “Right to Stay in Place” policy developed for East County residents to combat gentrification (e.g., First Right of Refusal, etc.), prioritizing households displaced from Northeast Portland

In Discussion

Effectively protecting residents from involuntary displacement requires more than one policy. It requires a suite of protections to anticipate and counter the policy decisions and economic forces that drive communities from their historic neighborhoods. And because these factors that drive up the cost of living and rent are steeped in systemic racism, communities of color are often the first to experience displacement. 

Under the guise of “urban renewal” and “revitalization,” Black Portlanders have experienced decades of gentrification because local leaders failed to enact protections that could have countered the influx of higher-income, mostly white families that “urban renewal” attracted. As a result, at least 25 percent of Black Portlanders have been displaced from their homes and neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland.

Portland has continued to experience rapid economic expansion — so much so that residents who were forced out of inner Portland toward East County may be displaced again by the same economic pressures. Before that pressure becomes overwhelming, we have an opportunity to implement protections that have proven to mitigate the detrimental impacts of gentrification.

Multnomah County does not have the legal authority to implement anti-displacement policies in the cities within county lines. However, in the most recent County budget, Chair Kafoury proposed, and the Board of Commissioners voted to approve $515,000 in funding for a new Peer-led Renter Support Program. This investment is intended to provide critical help for families in mid and east Multnomah County, focused on communities of color. Peer counselors will provide culturally specific one-on-one support and coaching to help renters work on their credit and budget, and prevent evictions. Department of County Human Services staff are currently in the hiring phase.

Increase salaries for frontline workers in social service agencies

Reimagine Oregon is requesting increases in social service contract allocations to support living wage jobs. The request includes increased salaries for frontline housing caseworkers of 4 to 7 percent, plus a cost of living increase, and to start with organizations that have a track record of consistently serving Black families and/or organizations that have at least a 20 percent staff census of Black workers.

In Progress

In the most recent County budget, Chair Kafoury proposed, and the Board of Commissioners voted to approve, a $3 million investment to better retain and recruit frontline staff among Joint Office of Homeless Services contracted social service agencies. The County is engaging with social service partners to prepare policy options to further address this issue.

Most recently, the City of Portland and Multnomah County invested $2 million total from our respective mid-year revenue surpluses into a 3% increase for operating budgets, as well as bonuses for recruitment and retention.

The Board of County Commissioners also approved including Labor Harmony language in our contracts for Behavioral Health and Preschool For All providers to ensure we can continue critical County services while maintaining a well-supported and stable workforce. 

Stop all sweeps of camps that shelter houseless people

This proposal asks local governments to stop all sweeps of camps that shelter people who are houseless, expand sit-lie regulations and support a “Right to Rest” agenda that decriminalizes homelessness.

In Discussion

Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran is actively working with advocates, community-based organizations and other legislators to explore strategies to better support people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, with the goal of promoting stability, safety, public health and individual dignity. This includes, but is not limited to, consideration of new models of alternative shelter, models of sanctioned or organized camping and/or villages, and improved hygiene access. 

Health and Well-being

Commitment Status Status Note

Invest in culturally specific mental health care healing centers

Reimagine Oregon requested support for organizations like the Avel Gordly Center for Healing with significant funding from public health agencies at the city and state level.

Complete, but ongoing

The County's Behavioral Health Division has held internal conversations about this request, and has reviewed its current contract with the Avel Gordly Center for Healing. The center serves a mix of clients, including those who are on Medicaid. 

What's clear is that there is a need for more culturally specific mental health care services dispersed throughout the community, so the County is continuing to expand some of those services, including with providers who offer similar treatment like Avel Gordley. For example, we are currently working with Central City Concern to open a culturally specific behavioral health transitional housing program — known as Karibu —  for Black men coming out of incarceration. The program is scheduled to open in the spring of 2022.
 
Further, as the County works to strategically invest in those services, we will ensure that the population we serve, particularly those on Medicaid or who lack insurance, are able to access treatment.

Fund culturally appropriate maternal health programs

With health disparities disproportionately harming Black women, supporting Black community health workers and doula programs are critical to Black wellness. Reimagine Oregon requested increased funding for programs that include pregnancy health and prenatal care, birthing assistance, and family supports for new parents learning to care for infants.

Complete In the FY 2021 budget, Multnomah County restored full funding for our maternal and child health programs that specifically serve the Black community, using savings from public safety divestments. We will continue to work with the program's parent and community advisory network to identify future needs and opportunities to continue, improve and expand upon this work.

Economic Development

Commitment Status Status Note

Include First Source Hiring on all publicly funded/subsidized projects

Reimagine Oregon requests Public Benefits programs on all publicly funded or subsidized projects should include First Source hiring, and jobs on publicly funded projects must meet “high road” standards and provide a living wage. 

In Progress

Multnomah County agrees that publicly funded programs should provide economic opportunities to communities that have historically been excluded from, or lacked access to, the construction trades. The County continues our work with the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC), Portland Business Development Group (PDBG), and the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) and others to build project agreements that set high standards and result in jobs for people of color and minority-owned businesses. We are also working on new language in our procurement process to ask employers to better describe how they will source their workforce. 

In addition, the County adopted the Construction Career Pathways Project Framework (C2P2) in 2019 in order to advance a regional approach to building diversity in the construction trades. In 2018, the Board of County Commissioners also voted to create the Construction Diversity and Equity Fund to set aside 1 percent of our construction funds to support building diversity through pre-apprenticeship support, workforce retention and technical assistance for small business. We will continue to work with community partners to develop strategies that diversify our public infrastructure investments.

In 2022, the County is using the Regional Workforce Equity Agreement (RWEA) language created by C2P2 for our Library Construction Bond Projects. This project agreement includes “high road” contracting standards.

Education

Commitment Status Status Note

Mandate restorative justice practices and trainings for educators and students

Reimagine Oregon is promoting initiatives that would require restorative justice processes when a student or student's family identifies a racist incident or incident of prejudice.

In Progress

The Office of Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal is focused on researching best practices for implementing restorative justice processes and protocols in schools and planning a summit in 2022.

Legislative Process

Commitment Status Status Note

Require racial impact statements

This commitment would require racial impact statements from chief sponsors of all legislative bills to analyze potential impacts to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Reimagine Oregon recommends jurisdictions consult with community-based organizations and/or experts for input and require a re-write and consultation with Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color if any policy that indicates negative impacts on their communities or could exacerbate racial disparities. 

In Progress Multnomah County includes an equity lens assessment as part of its review of legislative bills in the Office of Government Relations. The County is also reviewing the current practices and thresholds around the use of equity impact statements and assessments in County board-adopted legislation. A draft tool has been developed and an implementation process is being drafted.

Require community advisory boards in rule-making processes

Legislative rulemaking processes often focus on nuanced technicalities. Reimagine Oregon asks jurisdictions to make more space for community advisory boards to provide insight that could inject new perspectives and voices into processes that have historically been inaccessible to public feedback.

Complete When engaging in rulemaking (most recently in Public Health), Multnomah County has engaged a community advisory board or community input process. 

Establish equity advisors in all offices and bureaus

Similar to financial advisors in every office, Reimagine Oregon requested that all jurisdictions establish equity advisors in all office and bureau executive leadership teams.

Complete All Multnomah County departments have an equity team and an equity and inclusion manager. Efforts are ongoing to improve support for equity and inclusion practitioners within the organization. Additionally, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has an equity team and equity and inclusion manager. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office also convenes an equity team. In FY22, the County approved a budget that included expanded staff capacity for equity practitioners throughout the organization.