PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Gov. Tina Kotek is taking back nearly $3 million for homelessness response from Multnomah County to be reallocated to six other counties.
Kotek said the move will help create a statewide homelessness response, but Multnomah County commissioners say they want the money to stay in the county.
“It’s frustrating,” Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards said. “We obviously have a huge need here in Multnomah County.”
Back in March, Kotek signed a $200 million funding package to create an emergency homelessness response. The largest portion, $18 million, went directly to Multnomah County.
Multnomah County received nearly $63 million in unexpected revenue – some of which went to Bybee Lakes Hope Center.
“Knowing that there is need for additional resources for shelter, additional resources for housing placements there, that was really important to me that we could be a partner in that work,” Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said.
Now nearly $2.7 million is heading back to the state after the county didn’t spend the money fast enough.
“I think it’s outrageous, frankly, that we would be in a situation where because we have no plan, the governor is saying we have no plan,” Commissioner Sharon Meieran said.
Based on projections that Oregon Housing and Community Services, the funds will be shared with Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties. Clackamas County will receive just under $1 million while the other five counties will get nearly $2 million
The money is expected to house 89 currently unsheltered households.
“We are identifying people and places to put them and as fast as our money comes in we’re putting it out the door,” Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith said.
Kotek said this money will help add resources and meet statewide goals by the beginning of the year – making Jan. 10, 2024 their deadline to use the money. But Multnomah County commissioners say their needs are still high.
“It is outrageous to be doing that when we have such a crisis on our streets,” Meieran said. “And we should be spending every dollar that we have to end the crisis.”
Brim-Edwards said the money should be used for creating stability in Multnomah County.
“So every increment of money here in multnomah county we can actually use to help provide basic services, safety and stability and getting people on the road to housing,” she said.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.