PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After so much money was thrown at Multnomah County’s homelessness crisis, a Portland coalition is asking: Where are the results?
A group of real estate brokers known as the Revitalize Portland Coalition sent a letter to the county this month criticizing what they say is a lack of strategy to tackle the problem.
Executive Director Erik Cole said it’s not the money the coalition takes issue with; rather, it’s how much of it is spent without a noticeable difference on the city’s streets.
“We are in an emergency, so let’s act like it’s an emergency,” Cole said, adding that he wants to see quicker action, more results, and better tracking of the millions of dollars the county spends on initiatives to help people who are homeless.
“Are we tracking at all at that level what that money is doing to get people housed, to connect people with shelter, to get people drug rehabilitation?” he said.
The letter the coalition wrote said its members have “little confidence” that all the money the county spends on homelessness results in “meaningful, tangible, or even visible results.” As an example, it points to the months the Metro Supportive Housing Tax was left unspent.
“It’s a very difficult job with a whole lot of priorities, but no, around homelessness, it does not feel like they’re following a long-term strategy,” Cole said.
In response, the county said that the tax money was eventually allocated. They also said there have been beds for shelters and addiction care added to its capacity – though they did not respond to the letter’s claims about a lack of results
Cole said that having a system to track what programs on which the county spends its money would be a good start.
“We really, like so many Portlanders, want to see folks that are experiencing homelessness housed, get the treatment they need, get the services they need,” he said. “And we’re just not seeing that happen right now.”
The coalition is calling for the county to hire an outside firm for an independent audit of the Joint Office of Homeless Services, which is something Commissioners Julia Brim Edwards and Susheela Jayapal have expressed interest in as well.