Oregon lawmakers passed a bipartisan $200 million plan to help with housing and homelessness on Tuesday night 21 March 2023, sending it to Gov. Tina Kotek’s desk for final approval.
The $200 million, included in House Bills 2001 and 5019, will help people pay their rent, build more shelters, protect homeless youth, and speed up the building of homes, among other things. The package also makes several policy changes to help with the affordable housing crisis.
For example, it gives renters more time to pay past-due rent and makes local governments responsible for building more housing.
The Senate passed both bills with a vote of 21-7 on Tuesday night, 21 March 2023, less than a week after the House passed the package with a large majority. The account is one of Kotek’s most important policy goals for the session.
The first bill was passed quickly and with a large majority. This is a big win for Kotek, a Democrat from Portland who made housing her signature issue during her record-setting nine years as speaker of the House.
Below is a Twitter post regarding this news-
The fact that the money bill passed the Legislature in March and millions of dollars will be sent to communities starting this week is very unusual. It shows that both parties want to fix the state’s urgent housing shortage immediately.
During debate on House Bill 5019, first-term Sen. Aaron Woods, a Wilsonville Democrat, said “the people of Oregon need us to act. We cannot allow the status quo of homelessness” to continue. “This bill will help us build more housing, get people off our streets and make our communities more safe.”
During the discussion of House Bill 2001, senators said that even though they mostly agreed with it, it wasn’t enough.
“Investments made in this bill are important but temporary,” said Sen. Republican Leader Tim Knopp of Bend.
“I support (the bill) but we need to make housing a priority to solve the problem and give people permanent housing … we need a bold and robust housing package to follow the homelessness package.”
Knopp and Sen. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, said that the state needs more mental health resources and drug addiction resources.
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Kotek is expected to sign the package quickly, letting $30 million go to local communities immediately. Those first funds will prevent people from being kicked out of their homes, helping them pay their rent and pay for some state staffing costs. The rest of the money will be available when the next fiscal year starts on July 1.
The money will be added to any money put into the general budget for housing and homelessness for the next two years. Service providers see emergency funding as a down payment that will help them speed up their work while they wait for regular state funding.
The most money, $55 million, will be used to find apartments for people who don’t have any. This money will go to charities and landlords to help get housing for 1,200 homeless people, primarily by paying their rent in privately owned apartments.
Multnomah County wants to use its share of the money to bring back a pilot program it started last summer to pay landlords to house people without homes. The program gave landlords guarantees like mediation between tenants and landlords and money to fix damages. They hope that will be enough to accommodate 300 people.
The following most significant amount of money, $34 million, will help people pay their rent so they don’t have to move. Officials in the state think that the rent assistance will keep 8,750 families and individuals from becoming homeless. That comes out to about $3,800 per family.
Multnomah County wants to keep 2,000 families from having to move out.
Source – Oregonlive.