PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to spend millions of dollars addressing homelessness and public safety.
The commissioners voted unanimously to spend $321,000 to add two deputies and a detective to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
“These dollars are going to make a real difference. I’m so appreciative of all the work that has gone on,” said Chair Deborah Kafoury.
The deputies will assist in family protection orders and getting guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them — an effort the sheriff’s office has prioritized this year.
The money will also be used to add a detective to the FBI’s Safe Streets Initiative which is focused on curbing gun violence.
“I’m proud of the collaborative work of MCSO to keep our communities safe and these law enforcement positions work to remove firearms from those who pose the most risk,” said MCSO Undersheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell.
Multnomah County commissioners also voted to spend nearly $34 million on emergency shelters for homeless people and expanding homeless services, as well as nearly $3 million on behavioral health.
“The reality is the decisions we’re making here shouldn’t be about receiving a windfall of tens of millions of dollars and rushing to spend it in a few weeks so it can look like we’re doing something urgently,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran. “The reality is that this humanitarian public health and public safety crisis was emergent long before the COVID pandemic and because we didn’t prioritize, invest and treat it like the emergency it was for so long, we — local government — let it spiral out of control.”
On Monday, City of Portland and Multnomah County leaders announced a $38 million investment into homelessness programs and public health services. The city and county will split the funding nearly evenly, with Portland receiving about $18.8 million and Multnomah County receiving roughly $19.2 million.
City leaders are expected to hash out their budget on Wednesday.