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Ballot measure proposes re-directing homeless funding to create more shelter space

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 12:01 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - With the city of Portland continuing to struggle with homelessness and urban camping, an organization called People for Portland is proposing a ballot measure that would require 75% of funds from the Metro homeless services bond passed by voters in 2020 be spent on creating additional shelter space.

The ballot measure, which the organization hopes to place on the November ballot, would require the funding redirect until the county receiving the funds has more shelter beds than people defined as “homeless” and that county is enforcing anti-camping laws.

“We’re not getting the results that we need.  And it’s clear that no one’s really happy with the current state of affairs.  You can feel the tension in the city,” said Brandon Manley, a North Portland homeowner who supports the proposed ballot measure.

Manley said he and his neighbors have filed hundreds of requests with the city to remove an encampment near them they consider a danger to the community.

“There’s always a fire going because, of course they need to keep warm.  But it creates a lot of smoke that often fills our house so we have to keep windows closed,” said Alison Milionis, who lives just upslope from the camp. “It’s really unsafe.”

The proposed ballot measure does have its opponents.  JOIN, a Portland nonprofit that provides services for people experiencing homelessness released a statement saying, “It is an attempt to take away 75% of voter-approved funding for comprehensive solutions like mental health and addiction services, affordable housing, and case management, and would likely lead to more homeless and harm for families experiencing homelessness.”

An attorney for the Metro Regional Government reviewed the initial ballot measure filed with the county and found it didn’t meet certain legal requirements.  People for Portland has since filed a revised ballot measure they hope to put before voters in November.