PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than two dozen mayors across Oregon are banding together, asking state lawmakers for more taxpayer money to help fight the homeless crisis.
The Oregon Mayors Association recently sent a letter to the Oregon legislature asking for funding, saying that $123 million is needed each year to disperse among the state’s cities.
Multiple Oregon mayors spoke Monday afternoon about more reasons why the funding is needed.
“While we have significant skin in the game, our city’s budget cannot do what needs to be done to solve this without significant state resources,” Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty said. “We are requesting that each city be given $40 per resident based on the latest Portland State University calculations, with no city being given less than $50,000.”
North Plains Mayor Teri Lenahan stated that each community has its own unique challenges and that a “one-size-fits-all solution won’t work for every city.”
In response to the OMA’s letter, Oregon House leaders responded with an outline of money the state has invested in homeless services in the last two years.
All the mayors in the coalition agree using taxpayer money to end the crisis is a bipartisan issue.
“This is a human issue, and issue of safety and sanitation and care and humanity and all kinds of things that really don’t care about Ds and Rs after your name,” Dayton Mayor Beth Wytoski said.
Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall added that this is an issue that’s been “going on for far too long.”
KOIN 6 News requested an interview with a member of the Oregon House Democratic Caucus, but a spokesperson wasn’t able to arrange one on Monday. They did, however, provide a copy of a letter sent to the Oregon Mayors Association on Oct. 25th that thanked OMA for the work that cities and counties have done in response to the homelessness crisis.
The letter was signed by House Majority Leader, Julie Fahey, Representative Maxine Dexter, who serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Housing and Senator Kayse Jama, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing and Development. It said in part “we agree wholeheartedly that responding to a crisis of this magnitude requires collaboration between leaders at every level of government,” and “We’re looking forward to continuing our partnerships with local governments, and to meeting in person to understand the ways we can most effectively support the work you are doing and to learn more about your request for a funding allocation in the 2023 session.”
The letter also contained details about homelessness and housing policies and investments passed by the legislature in the last few years.
KOIN 6 News also reached out to all three gubernatorial candidates. Betsy Johnson who’s running as an unaffiliated candidate said, “We need to end inhumane, dangerous tent cities all across Oregon. Portland area counties now have $250 million a year for 10 years that local leaders need to stop arguing about and start acting to get people safely off the streets. Counties and cities outside the Portland tri-county area will need more financial support from the state to address homelessness. However, any distribution of funds would need to be through an objective process that doesn’t disadvantage small cities and there needs to be real, measurable deliverables. As governor, I’ll support these communities to end homelessness.”
Democratic candidate Tina Kotek said, “I’m looking forward to partnering with Mayors across the state to take on our homelessness crisis on Day One – and I will hold everyone accountable for delivering results.”
John Burke, the communications director for Republican Candidate, Christine Drazan told KOIN 6 News, “There is no greater indictment of Tina Kotek’s failed leadership than our homelessness crisis. She held power as Speaker for nearly ten years, supported legalizing deadly hard drugs, and made it illegal for cities to clear tent encampments. She and Kate Brown are directly responsible for the crisis on our streets. Christine Drazan will declare a homeless state of emergency to unlock all tools available to ensure homelessness is rare and temporary. She looks forward to partnering and supporting local governments in their shared mission to get people off the street and into safe housing.”