In her inauguration speech, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek told state lawmakers she wants $130 million dedicated to keeping people housed. Now she’s telling legislators exactly how she wants that money spent.
“Bold ideas, concrete solutions, disciplined follow through,” Kotek said in a written statement Thursday. “That’s how we can deliver results, this year, and in the years to follow.”
The governor believes the money should be spent to stave off homelessness for about 9,000 people and to expand shelter capacity by 600 beds within one year, among other things.
There are about 18,000 people believed to be experiencing homelessness in Oregon right now, with about 11,000 of those living without shelter, according to information from the governor’s office.
Here is a closer look at her proposal:
- $33.6 million to eviction prevention services and rental assistance with the goal of preventing an estimated 8,750 households on the verge of losing their homes.
- $23.8 million to pay for 600 new shelter beds and hire more “housing navigators” to help connect people struggling to find shelter with services.
- $54.4 million to help re-house 1,200 people by, in part, helping with rental assistance and leasing vacant homes.
- $5 million to go to the nine sovereign tribes in Oregon to support tribal members at risk of homelessness
- $5 million for culturally responsive organizations
- $2 million to help local communities with sanitation services
- $1.8 million to help support emergency responses being managed by the Office of Emergency and Oregon Housing and Community Services
More details about Kotek’s plan — including where the money will come from, specific community groups that will receive it and whether state legislators will agree with her outline — aren’t clear yet.
Kotek will unveil her proposed two-year budget next week, likely fleshing out answers to some of these questions. The governor’s budget is not binding but often serves as a starting point for lawmakers who are responsible for actually balancing the budget and deciding how taxpayers’ dollars are spent. Kotek has made it clear that she agrees with those who have called for a more aggressive statewide response to addressing the housing crisis.
Members of the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, have shown they are largely aligned with Kotek’s more aggressive approach to handling the housing crisis from a statewide level. Kotek has also called for the state to create 36,000 new housing units a year — up from about 22,000 created annually now. She has declared a homelessness state of emergency in some parts of the state, allowing more flexibility for the quicker building of housing and shelters.
A coalition of mayors from across the state, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, have been pressing the state to take a more active role.
Kotek said the $130 million package she’s pushing is only one piece of a much larger strategy to address the homelessness crisis.
“I am urging the legislature to take up this investment package as quickly as possible. Unsheltered Oregonians need relief now, and our local communities need the support to provide that relief,” the governor said in a statement.