PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As Oregon faces a homeless and affordable housing crisis, newly-elected Salem Mayor Chris Hoy, says while the city has made progress in addressing the dual crises, more work needs to be done.
Mayor Hoy, sworn in in November, says homelessness is probably the biggest issue he is dealing with as mayor of Oregon’s second-largest city, behind Portland.
“We have a large homeless population, but we have a lot of really great things going on to address the issue. We have our regional coalition here in Marion and Polk County where we work with a number of local governments, the school district, the tribe, the cities, the counties,” Hoy explained.
The mayor said efforts to address homelessness includes the city’s micro-shelters, permanent supportive housing and affordable housing units being built.
In January 2022, the city of Salem approved three micro-shelters, each offering 40 small living spaces for those who are chronically homeless or recently unhoused — serving meals and connecting people in the shelters with resources, the city says.
Local non-profit, Church at the Park, helped open Salem’s first micro-shelter in April 2021, which has served 98 people since opening, according to the City of Salem’s website.
“In that time, 60% of the individuals have been able to obtain or maintain income and 33% of people served have exited the shelter to more permanent destinations,” the city says.
The city is expanding shelter and housing with construction underway for its new low-barrier Navigation Center, which will offer 50 shelter beds that will open in March, the city says. The city is also expanding supportive housing with outreach underway to help move-in those in need at Yaquina Hall’s 52 new units in May 2023.
Additionally, a $300 million public infrastructure bond — passed in November 2022 — includes a provision to address the lack of affordable housing, with $10 million allocated to the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund.
“We really have done a lot to address the situation, but we certainly have a lot more that we can get done for sure,” Hoy told KOIN 6 News.