PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland City Council voted Wednesday to put $27 million toward Mayor Ted Wheeler’s latest plan to handle homeless camping.
The new plan is to jumpstart a “five-resolution plan” which will build six designated camping sites. It aims to get work started on the construction of the camping sites as soon as possible. It also focuses on connecting Portland’s houseless population with the resources they need.
“City Council’s approval of these homelessness and affordable housing investments demonstrates our seriousness in addressing these issues,” said Wheeler. “The success of this work hinges on federal, regional, state, and local partners coming to the table with their ideas, services, and resources.”
But the people addressing the city council today show how difficult setting up these camps will be.
They were supportive of the campsites but they were there to oppose a safe rest village in the pearl district because of the problems they’d seen at another shelter.
That’s important because the sites for the six sanctioned campsites have yet to be chosen and this latest feedback adds to a list of pushback the city has received from safe rest villages.
The SRVs usually have a few dozen people, up to sixty, and the sanctioned campsites are expected to start off with up to 150 people and eventually 250 people.
The goal stated by the mayor and commissioners Mapps and Ryan is to get services at those campsites to help people more easily use them.
Earlier this month, the council debated the price tag, but could not come to a consensus.
Wednesday’s budget amendment also proposes diverting $7 million away from the joint office of homeless services, a partnership between the city and Multnomah County.
The mayor acknowledged there’s been a major breakdown between the city and county on who’s responsible for the city’s homeless and trash crisis.
“The main problem is nobody wants to be in the mud with us,” Wheeler said. “We’re in the mud, we deal in blood, we deal in mud, we deal in mental health issues, we deal in substance abuse issues, we deal in feces we deal in naked people running down the street, we haven’t decided who cleans up the mess. Who is responsible for the manifestations of this humanitarian catastrophe.”
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafour said that if the $7 million dollar cut remains permanent, it will result in a loss of nearly 250 shelter beds operated by the joint office.
Mayor Wheeler says he’s been encouraged by recent talks on homeless solutions with county chair-elect Jessica Vega Pederson.