Multnomah County, City of Portland commit $30 million to address homelessness

October 1, 2015

Chair Kafoury addresses the crowd at Wednesday's press conference as Mayor Hales looks on.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales announced a $30 million commitment to “A Home For Everyone,” the community partnership between the cities of Portland and Gresham, Multnomah County, the federal government and community and business partners including Home Forward and Meyer Memorial Trust.

The pledge -- $10 million from the county and $20 million from the city -- will go toward a series of investments to fund shelter beds for women and families, new affordable housing units and housing for people facing mental health issues. Also funded will be protections for people facing housing instability because the cost to rent is rising so fast.

“A crisis needs a plan,” said Chair Kafoury. “This investment from the city and county will change the lives of people who will sleep on our streets every night.”

The mayor agreed.  “For too long we have stayed rooted in that realization that these problems can’t be solved overnight,” Mayor Hales said. “I want to move us to asking ourselves daily what problems can be solved tonight.”

County Commissioner Jules Bailey immediately threw his support to the county pledge, which is also being supported by Portland city commissioners Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish. The money will come from a variety of sources, Chair Kafoury and Mayor Hales said, including city and county funding and other areas. It will:

Increase shelter options for our most vulnerable neighbors

●      Suspend limitations on siting shelters, making life-saving places to sleep available quickly.

●      We will be able to fund the more than 650 needed shelter beds for women, children and people with disabilities.

Invest more in the work we are doing to end homelessness

●      Fully fund the projected $15 million we need to prevent more than 1,000 families from becoming homeless and to house more than 1,300 additional women, children, and people with disabilities from shelters and off our streets.

Improve protection for tenants

●      Implement Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s proposal to increase notice for no cause evictions and rent increases.

●      Create a Tenant Protection Team at legal services to increase enforcement.

Build new affordable housing

●      Allocate an additional $10 million to build units that serve those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

●      Put a special emphasis on permanent housing for people with severe mental illness who are homeless and accessing the soon to be opened Unity Center.

Chair Kafoury and Mayor Hales have committed to finding the money in their respective budgets for the next fiscal year. That money comes in addition to money that’s being used in the current fiscal year. Earlier this year, the city and county invested $12.5 million in A Home For Everyone, which included new affordable housing, year-round shelter for families and children and a commitment to house every homeless veteran by the end of 2015. Already two-thirds of homeless veterans have been housed.

A Home for Everyone Initiative Director Marc Jolin answers questions about Wednesday’s announcement. From left: County Commissioner Jules Bailey, Chair Kafoury, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Mayor Hales