Oregon nonprofits hope new governor means new progress on homeless response

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 5:43 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Blanchet House in Old Town helps those experiencing homelessness day in and day out. Free meals, clothing and other help is given to anyone who asks. Scott Kerman, director of Blanchet House, says while he looks forward to Gov. Kotek’s efforts to reduce homelessness, she and other state lawmakers need to provide funding and resources that go beyond just building housing.

“One of the gaps that currently exists in a lot of our funding is for wrap-around support services,” said Kerman. “Our meal services, our clothing services, the peer support that we offer people.”

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

Kerman says Blanchet House and other similar nonprofits rely mostly on donations. He says in these dire times, he hopes a statewide emergency declaration on homelessness will lead to more support of organizations trying to help those on the streets or struggling with mental health or addiction.

“It’s hard to get funding for these kinds of community centers, drop-in centers, a lot of smaller nonprofits in our community,” said Kerman.

In Portland in the last year, multiple emergency declarations have been issued regarding homelessness, including efforts to speed up housing development, remove campsites from unsafe areas, and find alternative shelter options. Mayor Ted Wheeler also enacted a ban on camping in unsanctioned areas this past fall. But Kerman says he’s not seeing much of a difference from his perspective.

“To be honest, we haven’t really seen much change. When these things are declared, sometimes the plans in place are down the road,” he said. “What I don’t know is how these declarations help ramp up the urgency with which we need to act.”