PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler is asking for $27 million for a “down payment” on three of the six sanctioned camping sites in the city. It will fund construction, operational costs, private security, and a navigation team to conduct outreach.
“My team has worked alongside the city budget office to identify any and all available funding sources,” said Wheeler.
It means finding funding in American Rescue Plan money, infrastructure funding, and millions of dollars across city bureaus unspent due in part to 15% of city positions remaining open. Every fall city council reallocates extra cash, taking what’s in excess across bureaus who request funding.
In this budget there’s more than $51 million requested from bureaus in the city, including what Wheeler wants for the sanctioned campsites, but less than $44 million available.
To make the math work, Wheeler wants fellow commissioners to allocate $8 million refunded from the joint office of homeless services, more than $1 million from American Rescue Plan money from Prosper Portland, and over $3 million from unspent money in the Portland Police Bureau.
The numbers do work, but then commissioner Dan Ryan asked for $6 million in rental assistance funding that has been depleted. His office estimates that would prevent around 1,000 evictions. Ryan also requested $1.8 million for the Housing Bureau’s eviction defense fund.
“We would need to identify additional sources to fund these or reduce items from the list we just walked through to fund the additional requests,” said City Budget Director Jessica Kinard.
Wheeler is also asking for the county, metro, and the state to help fund the rest of the sanctioned campsite programs, but none have made a commitment so far.
“We will do our part for the city of Portland,” said Wheeler. “But, we cannot do it alone.”