PORTLAND (Nov. 1, 2021) — Sharing a deep sense of urgency around the need to safely and compassionately reduce the number of people outside sent surging by COVID-19, leaders from Multnomah County and the City of Portland jointly announced a more than $38 million package that will make immediate investments in shelter beds, health and outreach workers, community cleanup programs, and more.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan detailed the combined spending package — crafted after a series of high-level discussions about shared priorities and immediate opportunities — at a media event Monday, Nov. 1.
The package was made possible by better-than-expected revenues from business taxes collected by the city and the county. City and county commissioners will both need to formally approve the necessary spending for their respective parts of the plan later this month.
“All of us here today see with clear eyes what’s been happening over the course of the 40 years that led us here: a fundamental breakdown in how we care for the most vulnerable people in our country,” Kafoury said. “This represents a rare opportunity for us to come together, pool our resources and inject an immediate infusion into our system to address homelessness in our community.”
“I have more hope than I’ve experienced in my first 13 months in office due to this alignment of resources and this multijurisdictional willingness to streamline services,” said Ryan. “We are playing to our strengths with greater role clarity — we must continue to innovate and work smarter, and I am confident that this is a step in the right direction.”
In all, the spending package includes more than $30 million for priorities such as more shelter sites and beds, more behavioral health and public health services focused on high-impact areas like Old Town Chinatown, and more street-based service navigation outreach.
It also includes more than $7 million to help fund expanded trash pickup and campsite cleanup programs, to help manage the community impacts of high-needs unsanctioned campsites.
“Houselessness has been a top priority of my administration since day one,’’ said Wheeler. “The problem has worsened and we can’t take it on alone. I’m looking forward to partnering with Multnomah County to address this issue to ensure all Portlanders have a safe and healthy place to call home.”