Oregon mayors want annual funds to help combat the state’s homeless crisis

Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 4:27 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The Oregon Mayors Association announced a plan Monday that would help cities across the state address the homeless crisis.

The Oregon Mayors Association (OMA) is made up of all of Oregon’s mayors and they work like a government body, advocating for municipal interests. The one thing they’re asking is for the state legislature to allocate funds annually to cities to help them address the homeless crisis in their communities. The OMA said more than $123 million is needed to allow each of Oregon’s 200-plus cities to effectively help those living on the streets. They’re requesting each city receive no less than $50,000 at a cost of $40 per Oregon taxpayer. Beaverton mayor, Lacey Beaty, laid out OMA’s plan to the public.

“Mayors, we’re on the front lines of this crisis, we’re closest to the issues, and we’re uniquely equipped to address it,” Beaty said.

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Dayton mayor, Beth Wytoski, said what’s different from this investment compared to the past allocation of public funds to the homeless crisis, is that those were one-time investments. What Oregon’s mayors are asking for now is a continuous investment so help for the unhoused that is already established, can continue on.

“We have lots of programs from one end to the state to another, up and down, that look really different,” Wytoski said. “But one thing that is at risk is lots of them might be funded with competitive grants, they might be funded by one-time gifts.”

Wytoski said having annual funding to tackle the homeless crisis is also more flexible. For example, if a city needs to clean up abandoned camps, the money from the state will allow them to do that. If all the camps are cleaned up, then that money can go to other things like shelters, or preventive measures to keep people off the streets. One-time dollars could restrict a city from moving extra cash to another project.

Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, said the money would also help him execute his proposal to clean up the Rose City’s streets. He said the cash would go to feeding those living on the streets, paying outreach workers, and building basic infrastructure.

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“We can’t do this alone, we need the state’s help in implementing what we feel is the kind of programming at the level we need and the scale we need,” Wheeler said.

The Portland City Council is expected to vote on his proposal this Wednesday.

The OMA will have to wait for a vote on their proposal when the state legislature returns for its regular session in 2023