Metro Homeless Services Measure Appears To Pass

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Portland, Ore. May 19, 2020 3:45 p.m.

Early results show the passage of the Portland-area ballot measure looking to raise upwards of $250 million per year to support people experiencing homelessness.

As of 8:30 p.m., the measure has received more than 203,000 votes in favor, compared to 152,000 votes against.


Measure 26-210, referred to the ballot by Metro — the regionally elected government for Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties — will fund services including case management, rental assistance, addiction and mental health treatment.

The measure enacts two new taxes — a 1% marginal income tax on individuals earning more than $125,000 annually or couples who earn more than $200,000, as well as a 1% tax on the profits of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $5 million.

The money raised from the taxes will be distributed to counties based on population — about 45% to Multnomah County, 33% to Washington County and 21% to Clackamas County. Five percent will go to “Metro oversight and administration.”

“Metro will be working with our community partners and regional leaders to develop the county plans that will help those in need across our region,” Metro Council President Lynn Peterson said in a statement. “The answers in Oregon City will be different from the answers in Portland, and the answers in Portland will be different from the answers in Beaverton or Gresham. But regional coordination will be key to success.”


The measure was first brought to the Metro Council by HereTogether Oregon, a coalition of service providers, business leaders, elected officials and advocates focused on responding to homelessness in the Portland area.

“This is a monumental achievement tonight and a monumental task ahead of us,” Angela Martin, HereTogether’s campaign director, said. “Speaking for the HereTogether coalition, I know it’s a task we’re prepared to take on and working with the partners at both the Metro and the county levels, I believe it’s a task they’ve been ready to take on for a long time.”

The measure garnered support from the Portland Business Alliance, the region’s largest chamber of commerce, as well as elected officials including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

“This is an example of when you bring together the broadest spectrum of truly committed individuals and organizations to solve the problems that we all know we’re facing,” Andrew Hoan, president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance said.

The most vocal opposition to the measure came from the Alliance for an Affordable Metro, or AAM, a group that says it “represents Oregon’s leading job creators in the state.”

AAM has said Portland-area businesses and residents already pay enough in taxes and that the measure lacks accountability and oversight.

“[W]e respect the voters’ decision and we hope to build new coalitions that will work together to establish solutions to the serious lack of accountability surrounding the management of taxpayer dollars …” Joe Gilliam, with the Northwest Grocery Association and AAM, said in a statement. “Metro won tonight. But now they must perform and meet voter expectation. Everyone is watching.”

HereTogether said that the measure requires the creation of a 20-member oversight body to have public meetings and ensure full transparency of its work. Annual independent performance audits are required by the measure, as well.

The measure has a 10-year sunset, after which it will require voter approval to continue.