Gov. Tina Kotek signed two bills into law on Wednesday, 29 March 2023, to help with Oregon’s homelessness crisis. The room was full of advocates, legislators, and housing agency staff.
She said that the bills were a start toward providing homes to thousands of Oregonians.
“The resources in this package will help prevent homelessness for more Oregonians, supply more transitional shelter capacity, rehouse individuals experiencing homelessness, innovate in housing construction so we can support more production, and better serve specific populations with their shelter needs,” Kotek said.
Both chambers of the Legislature passed the House Bills 2001 and 5019 with full support from Democrats and some support from Republicans. They are part of a $200 million package that includes more than $112 million to add 700 beds to Oregon’s shelters and help 1,650 homeless people find permanent homes in the next year.
The package also includes $25 million to help homeless youth and more than $33 million to help nearly 9,000 families pay their rent so they can stay in their homes.
Within 24 hours of taking office, Kotek declared a state of emergency for the homeless and set up a state council to get thousands of new homes built every year. She asked the Legislature to help people who are homeless right away instead of waiting until the end of the session.
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Kotek said that the package meets her request and thanked the Democratic leaders of the Legislature, Senate President Rob Wagner of Lake Oswego House, who wasn’t there, and Speaker Rep. Dan Rayfield of Corvallis, who was.
She also talked about the role of other lawmakers, such as Rep. Maxine Dexter of Portland and Sen. Kayse Jama of Portland, both Democrats and Rep. Jeff Helfrich of The Dalles and Sen. Dick Anderson of Lincoln City, both of whom are Republicans.
“This response package includes the work of many other legislators who brought forward ideas, including efforts to make health and safety improvements to farmworker housing, encourage modular housing production, serve youth experiencing homelessness and more,” Kotek said.
“This is the kind of bold leadership we need to fix this crisis, and communities across the state will benefit in the coming months because of your decisive action.”
At the event, reporters were invited, but Kotek did not answer any questions.
Gov. Tina Kotek also shared a post on Twitter about this news, which is given below-
The crisis has affected every part of the state, from the Portland area to the coast and the southern counties to the eastern counties. According to the U.S. Census, at least 18,000 people in Oregon live on the streets.
Many people who work for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have mental health problems or are addicted to drugs.
In 2021, the Legislature approved a historic $1.3 billion to deal with this crisis, but the money has been slow to get to the people who need it. This session, Kotek is asking for millions more on mental health.
People living on the streets aren’t the only ones with trouble paying rent or mortgage. According to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, the state must build 550,000 new homes over the next 20 years. The state built fewer homes for years than its growing population needed.
Kotek said that the deal wouldn’t solve the problem.
“This crisis didn’t appear overnight, nor will it be solved overnight,” Kotek said.
What’s inside the box:
- $85.2 million to get homeless people housed and expand shelter capacity across Oregon.
- $33.6 million to help nearly 9,000 households stay in their homes.
- $27.4 million to address homelessness in about 25 rural counties among the 36 total that hasn’t been included in Kotek’s January emergency order because homelessness has increased slower than in urban areas.
- $24.9 million for homeless youth to help young people and their families with rent assistance, shelter and mental health or substance abuse treatment.
- $20 million to encourage the production of modular homes, built in factories and then placed in foundations or stacked to make apartment buildings.
- $5 million for Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes to help tribal members experiencing homelessness.
- $5 million for farmers to improve health and safety conditions at farm worker camps.
- Builders can use $3 million in revolving loans to pay for predevelopment costs, such as permits and local infrastructure fees, for homes that will be affordable to people earning between 80% and 120% of the median income in their area.
- $2.3 million for cities and counties to use for sanitation services.
- $1.6 million for the state Office of Emergency Management and Oregon Housing and Community Services to coordinate the state’s handling of the homelessness crisis.
- $200,000 to develop a long-term statewide rent assistance program.
Source- Oregon Live