New tax on the table to help metro area’s homeless

Civic Affairs

Voters would have the final say

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new tax is on the table Tuesday night that aims to help the Metro area’s homeless community, and that’s not just within the City of Portland.

The Metro Council is looking at raising taxes on wealthier people who live in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties. They have discussed a 1% tax on people who make over $125,000 a year, or couples who make a quarter of a million dollars a year. The money would help the homeless, but it would not be for building more affordable housing.

“There’s also services we need to provide for those with addiction and mental illness services that go with housing measures that have been adopted,” said Jim Middaugh, Metro Communications Director.

The council said its job is to manage growth in the region and the growing homeless population is part of that.

However, there are critics of the tax plan. Some have called the proposal rushed—an effort to get something on the ballot that beats a slew of other tax measures planned for November.

But supporters said the homeless crisis needs help now and can’t wait. Housing bond money is being used to help build more permanent homes for those in need. Advocates said it’s the services to help people manage their problems and get, and keep, a job that helps pay for housing that also needs attention now.

Regardless of what the council decides, the tax would go to the voters for the final say. The Metro Council is expected to vote later this month on putting a measure on the May ballot to ask voters if they support this. The measure would be separate from housing bonds that Portland and Metro voters have already approved in the past.

The council still has a lot of details to work out, like who would collect the tax if approved.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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