Homeless bill could declare state housing emergency

Salem

The short legislative session ends on Saturday, March 7

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A bipartisan effort is underway in Salem to house the state’s homeless population. House Bill 4001 would declare a housing emergency, suspending zoning laws to allow cities and counties to open homeless shelters anywhere until July 2021.

The bill would also allow for car camping in parking lots. HB 4001 includes tens of millions of dollars to help cities fund shelters, including $4 million to Salem and $1.5 million to McMinnville for navigation centers. The deadline for those to open is November 30.

“Here’s the problem: we have a shelter study that says we have unsheltered homelessness at catastrophic proportions in the state. We are one of four states in the country that more than half of individuals experiencing homelessness are unsheltered,” said Rep. Tina Kotek of Portland. “And we have to have an emergency mindset if we’re going to help our local partners.”

“There’s not enough funds. It’s very difficult. There’s not enough community support. This bill addresses both of those,” said Rep. Cheri Helt of Bend.

With all of the political differences in Salem, this bill is moving forward. The short legislative session ends on Saturday, March 7, at midnight.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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