The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners came together on June 16, 2022 to unanimously approve a $3.32 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (July 2022 - June 2023), funding proven solutions to the community’s most pressing issues, including chronic homelessness, behavioral health and community violence. The spending plan was built using an equity analysis and advances the County’s commitment to a more just and equitable community.
This budget is the eighth passed under Chair Deborah Kafoury, and at a total of $3.32 billion, is the largest County budget ever adopted.
“As we move through an uneven and unpredictable COVID-19 recovery, this budget strengthens the safety net, promotes racial justice and boldly builds infrastructure for a better future,” Chair Kafoury said.
“It reflects our belief that we can come together to solve problems, it promotes solutions to our greatest challenges, and it lifts up opportunities for people across the County to achieve their full potential.”
The Board also approved historic levels of funding for the Office of Sustainability and related programs, ensuring that the County can continue responding to the effects of climate change that put the health, safety and well-being of residents at risk.
Climate Change and Community Resilience
Over the last several years, Multnomah County has experienced life-threatening heat waves, bouts of dangerous cold, raging wildfires and toxic air. The FY 2023 budget directs resources to help community members who are most at risk of climate-related harms.
These new investments include:
- A community-driven feasibility assessment of the services and physical infrastructure needed in East County to increase community resilience during climate events and natural disasters.
- A program to replace residential wood stoves with heat pumps, a shift that will improve the health of the people living in those homes by providing both improved heating and air quality.
- A pilot program in East County to provide portable air conditioners to 1,000 households who are unable to afford one, lack the necessary transportation to secure one or can’t get help from their landlord to obtain one. The City of Portland is expected to extend the same offer to households in Portland city limits. This program will also provide 8,000 to 10,000 cooling kits to people who have emergency needs during a heat wave.
- A new position within the Office of Sustainability, a Climate Resilience Coordinator, who coordinates and catalyzes climate resilience policy within Multnomah County and across local and state agencies.
- An investment of $500,000 to help school districts in Multnomah County electrify their school bus fleets.
Climate Justice Plan
The Office of Sustainability, with partners at Coalition for Communities of Color and the City of Portland, have launched a partnership to develop a common community and government vision for what a climate-just community will look like in 2030 and beyond.
A $50,000 investment by the Board will provide funding to lower barriers that may otherwise keep community partners from joining the collaboration. Over the next year, staff and community members will work together to develop the Climate Justice Plan that will help to guide policy innovations and investments that address the impacts of the climate crisis and reduce emissions in Multnomah County. The plan will be grounded in the needs and priorities of communities that are most impacted by the climate crisis, including Black, Indigenous, other people of color, as well as those who are economically or socially marginalized, like people experiencing homelessness. The Board’s investment will leverage an additional $100,000 from philanthropic foundations to support the effort.
A More Just Food System
The most recent census of farmers conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2017 found that there were only three Black farmers in Multnomah County — a reality that can trace its roots back to Oregon’s Black exclusion laws that were put in place even before statehood.
Today, access to land in Multnomah County remains one of the highest barriers for beginning farmers, especially Black and African immigrant farmers. A new partnership with Mudbone Grown hopes to address that issue by creating a new chapter for the County’s Community Reaps Our Produce and Shares, or CROPS, program.
The CROPS farm will be managed by Mudbone Grown for the purpose of agricultural training, education, economic development, workforce development, farming for procurement, community farm visits and tours, and community placemaking. The program is a true “by us and for us” initiative that is Black-led and supported through alliances and partnerships with the agricultural sector to build Black leadership in farming.
A $500,000 investment will literally lay the groundwork to help support this vision. The money will be used to build an access road for the site, a barn and greenhouse. Mudbone Grown hopes to turn the site into a “turnkey” incubator farm for Black and African immigrant farmers where access to land and shared farming tools will allow farmers to focus on growing their businesses.