PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Despite battles over accountability, the Portland City Council indicated on Wednesday that it will approve extending its contract with Multnomah County to help fund the Joint Office of Homelessness Services.
However, council members acknowledged the city is “failing” and not doing enough to solve the homeless crisis.
There was talk about splitting up the city/county partnership, but city leaders indicated that they would continue to give Multnomah County $40 million per year, but with strings attached.
City council members voted unanimously to consider a measure next week to extend a one-year contract with the county, thanks, in part, to new county leadership — Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and a new joint office director.
But they made it clear there has to be accountability and guidelines in a contract for how that money would be spent and proof that homelessness is reduced.
A big issue currently is that the council learned the Joint Office of Homeless Services has spent only about half the $36 million collected from a new tax on Portland metro area taxpayers and businesses. Vega Pederson is now pledging to get that money out the door.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler wants a $20 million commitment from the Vega Pederson to help fund the large managed homeless camps he is planning.
Vega-Pederson said it will be up to the full commission to decide whether to approve that.