PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Ana Del Rocio is running for Multnomah County commissioner with the goal of tackling the homelessness and housing crises in addition to environmental initiatives and improving the implementation of pre-school for all.

The former policy director for then-commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson also worked as a teacher, David Douglas School Board member and served as co-chair of the Multnomah County Charter Review Committee.

Del Rocio says if she is elected, she wants to focus on building economic prosperity by addressing homelessness and affordable housing.

“We’re facing a set of interlocking crises around housing and homelessness, mental health and addiction and community safety. What we need in District 3 is someone who understands the specific needs of our communities. I’ve lived on both sides of [Interstate] 205 and I know that people are really concerned about not just getting their neighbors immediately into housing who are unhoused, also housing affordability for families at all income levels,” Del Rocio said.

The candidate says the next commissioner needs to recognize the decades-long economic issues impacting the community.

“I’m so proud to be running to represent District 3 in East Portland. It’s where I am choosing to raise my children. We have a vibrant cultural set of communities that are really looking out for one another, caring for one another, small businesses and entrepreneurs who form the backbone of our hyper-local economy. But we have faced significant threats to our dignity and security over the past, truly, decades that have resulted in a lot more economic distress, spikes in gun violence and really inequitable outcomes in education across the board,” Del Rocio said.

She added, “we can’t just set the bar at ending homelessness and hunger. We deserve a path to thriving communities that include arts and culture, that include community centers, that include small businesses. And I think it’s time that we elect someone who can deliver on that.”

During her campaign, Del Rocio has said the thousands of homeless people on the streets, especially in Portland, is a failure of policy and says the Joint Office of Homeless Services needs to address unsheltered homelessness, build permanent supportive housing, add to the county’s housing supply and says the county needs to bolster its behavioral health workforce.

“When it comes to the public health side, that’s really where Multnomah County stands to shine and really needs to address it’s behavioral health workforce shortage to supplement any housing intervention with robust behavioral health treatment options that includes mental health and addiction services to really wrap around and make sure people stay housed.”

As the county works to support the City of Portland’s Safe Rest Villages to house people facing homelessness, Del Rocio says the county needs to address the root of housing instability.

“The county has a crucial role to play, again, when it comes to supplementing that intervention with mental health and addiction support services. What we understand from the science is that mental illness and addiction are chronic health conditions. We have been facing his crisis in this region for a long time, preceding even the housing and homelessness crisis. So, we have a responsibility to address the underlying conditions and causes that may be contributing to housing instability,” Del Rocio said,

The candidate also wants to tackle environmental justice.

“Environmental justice looks at people and planet as one. We can’t talk about the planet as if it were somehow devoid of the people who live on the planet, and we have to make sure that any policy that we’re seeing takes care of both. For the county, again a local public health authority, we need to make sure that we are addressing and really prioritizing the health and safety of people, particularly as the climate continues to change,” Del Rocio said.

Another initiative the candidate wants to address is the implementation of pre-school for all and helping parents find childcare.

“We have received a lot of investments and commitment from across the board that this is an important area to invest in from the zero to five age group. We have a new initiative that is considered a model across the country here in Multnomah County. We can’t afford to have that be anything less than successful and for Multnomah County District 3 especially when so many families are more childcare burdened than rent or mortgage burdened, it is incumbent on leadership at the county to make sure that program is successful, that we’re hiring providers, that we’re meeting our target student service population requirements and that we’re really delivering high quality, affordable education.”