PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Following the $200 million bipartisan bill that passed Tuesday night to begin solving Oregon’s housing and homelessness crisis, Gov. Tina Kotek said she is looking toward all communities in the state for that funding.
As a part of her ‘One Oregon’ tour across the state, Gov. Kotek stopped in Columbia County Wednesday.
“We are asking our city and county governments, ‘What do you need to keep doing what you’re doing now?,” said Kotek.
County by county, she is traveling throughout Oregon, stops in Vernonia and St. Helens, meeting with educators and students, touring mental health treatment services and working on economic development. One issue was also top of mind – homelessness, which she said is a need everywhere in the state but may look different in each county.
“Here, a lot of people are living in tents out in the woods, so how do you connect them to services, get them connected to housing?,” said Kotek. “It’s a different challenge but the need is still the same.”
Something she says is already working in St. Helens is a group of housing units through the Community Action Team, for those connecting to services as they come up from unsheltered homelessness.
“They can stay here, get stable, then even get further permanent housing throughout the community and throughout Columbia County,” said Kotek.
Following a letter by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to the governor about the millions approved in the legislature for tackling homelessness and whether any of those funds would go to his plan for sanctioned campsites, Kotek responded, telling KOIN 6 the state wants to focus the funds for non-congregate sites in pods instead of tents.
They believe the small structures would be more successful with lighting, heating and cooling, and the ability to lock, allowing the homeless there to have safe and secure spaces for themselves and their belongings.
However, first, the state wants to see cooperation between the city and Multnomah County for services like mental health treatment and help into permanent housing. Kotek wouldn’t outright say if they would or would not fund the campsites if the changes are made.
“That doesn’t mean we are going to fund them. What we’re going to say is if you have pods and you’re working with the county and you’re doing this together, you’re on a likely path to get funded,” said Kotek.
The governor didn’t go into further detail about her next stop on the One Oregon tour, but says she will be visiting every county in Oregon before the end of the year.