Kotek signs three executive orders, focusing on the housing and homeless crisis

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 6:15 PM PST
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - It was a full first day for Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, signing three executive orders addressing the state’s homeless and houseless crisis.

Kotek signed the executive orders during her first time in front of the media as governor. The most notable out of the three is declaring the homeless crisis a state of emergency. Not only does this full fill one of Kotek’s campaign promises, but it also frees up money and cuts red tape. The second executive order sets a goal for the state to build 36,000 new homes per year. The third order is directing state agencies, not headed by elected officials, to prioritize keeping people off the streets.

“These actions are important first steps,” Kotek said. “It’s going to take collaboration and commitment across local, state, federal, and private sectors, to make sure we’re acting at a scale and urgency this humanitarian crisis demands.”

The governor told reporters the state of emergency will help coordinate resources and get all levels of government on the same page. She said there will be an incident command structure, similar to that when local governments respond to natural disasters.

SEE ALSO: Tina Kotek sworn in as governor, looks to unite Oregonians

“So setting up that framework, local governments are very familiar with, bringing an interagency approach and collaboration from the state, to work with our local partners,” Kotek said. “So not only technical assistance but also resources.”

Kotek acknowledged her second executive order is ambitious. With constraints on the construction industry because of staffing issues, reaching the 36,000 number every year may not happen but it’s a target she wants the state to shoot for. Her new Housing Advisory Council will be tasked to draw up a plan that will get the state as close to that number as possible.

“I’ve had some very good conversations with the private sector,” Kotek said. “Look, everybody is on board. People want to do this. They know this is the ultimate solution to issues facing our state, so stay tuned we will have some details in the coming weeks.”

When the legislative session starts, the governor wants lawmakers to take up her $130 million investment package as soon as possible. But details on where that will go are still being flushed out, just a goal of getting 1,200 people off the streets. The Oregon League of Cities is hoping there will be a consistent cash flow from the state to help their efforts in tackling the homeless crisis.

“How I see the investment today in these orders is complementary to that approach,” Kotek said. “There is going to be a longer conversation in the session about their proposal.”

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Kotek also said access to behavioral health services is a big part of her plan to get people off the streets. When it comes to her plan to fund all of this, especially with a predicted $3 billion shortfall in state revenue, Kotek said the public should wait for her budget plan to be released.

As the new governor starts to address Oregon’s biggest issues head-on, she promised to get voices from every corner of Oregon at the table.

“I intend to do this if we’re not reaching that expectation, I want to hear about it because this is one state, and I look forward to working with everybody,” Kotek said.