Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday she will ask the Legislature to approve $5 million in new state funding to provide shelter for homeless families.
The governor’s request comes on top of $40 million in funding for homeless services approved by the Legislature in 2017.
If approved, $2.6 million would go to Multnomah County, which has the largest homeless population in the state.
The remaining $2.4 million would be for the Oregon Housing and Community Service’s statewide programs.
The latest point-in-time count found 4,177 homeless people in Multnomah County. That is roughly 30 percent of all the state’s total homeless population of 13,953, according to the 2017 count.
Brown announced her request at the largest shelter for homeless families in Multnomah County.
Approximately 130 children and parents live at the shelter, run by the nonprofit Human Solutions, in a small shingled building.
Human Solutions is housing an additional 270 parents and children in churches and motels.
The somewhat limited data available suggests family homelessness is on the rise in Oregon.
The number of students meeting the Department of Education’s definition of homelessness, which unlike the point-in-time count, includes those doubled up or living with friends, was 23,541 in the 2016-17 school year. That represents 3.9 percent of the entire public K-12 student population.
But Brown’s request also comes at a time when the Legislature may be reluctant to approve new spending.
Voters will decide Jan. 23 whether to approve a tax on hospitals and health insurers to stabilize the Medicaid budget.
If the measure fails, the Legislature could be facing a budget shortfall of as much as $320 million.