PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland political action group wants to put an initiative on the ballot that would require the three counties within Metro to direct a majority of homeless funds toward emergency shelters, instead of long-term housing.
The proposal from People for Portland would require Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties to direct 75% of funding from the Supportive Housing Services Measure to “construction, maintenance and operation of safe, sanitary emergency shelters.”
In May 2020, voters approved the tax which will bring in $2.5 billion over 10 years.
The group argues the local counties are ignoring immediate solutions and relying too heavily on longer term projects like low-income brick and mortar apartment buildings which take a long time to build.
A spokesperson for People for Portland issued a statement:
“They call it a humanitarian crisis but don’t act like it. It’s not just brick and mortar – it’s their willingness to wait 5-8 years for permanent systems as people die on the streets. There can be no long-term solutions that don’t start with acting now to give safe sanitary shelter. That’s why people are insisting on safe shelter now. After that, spend the money on long term however you need to. “
Under the proposal, the distribution would continue until the number of shelter beds meets a county’s homeless population or until the counties can enforce anti-camping rules.
An oversight member of Portland’s Focused Intervention Team supports the proposal.
“We have folks who are waiting and they’ve been waiting, they’re vulnerable to crime of all sorts, as a woman, vulnerable toward so many different things,” Kimberely Dixon said. “To see that vulnerability and turn a blind eye and to keep people on the streets when we have the dollars here for two years — this is not OK.”
Supporters will have to gather thousands of signatures to get the proposal on ballots for the November election.