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COIC Leads Local Effort For State Homelessness Funds

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon will get $13.9 million as part of the Governor’s homelessness emergency order. As Central Oregon's Council of Governments, COIC is the lead agency overseeing the local plan to create 111 new shelter beds and rapidly rehouse 161 people. 

"To some it may seem like that’s a lot of money for not a lot of individuals," COIC Executive Director Tammy Baney tells KBND News. But she says Central Oregon's housing market makes the work more expensive. "Most of it, though, I would say, is the lack of available units to be able to move people into. So we are establishing a network of shelter, both low-barrier and all the systems that create a process for people to go through to get to really safe and secure and sustainable housing."

Baney says pulling people out of homelessness is an investment in the regional economy, "Not only is it not humane, but people are not able to have great worker productivity. Individuals that want to be in the workforce are in crisis trying to either keep their housing or become housed. If I’m not housed, I’m not going to be your best employee. If I’m living in my car, I am not going to be showing up for work. I’m not going to have my medical needs met and my children are probably not excelling in school."

COIC is working to secure contracts to meet the region's shelter bed and rapid rehousing goal by January 10, 2024. She admits it's a lofty plan, "This is moving faster than I’d like to see it move. However, the crisis- it’s outpacing us, and has been. We have individuals in our region who are in need last year of support. So, a lot of the funding that would have come forward for cities and counties to address these issues would’ve been from the federal government decades ago. And, unfortunately, a lot of that funding is no longer there."

The Governor has said she hopes money will start flowing by the end of the month, and communities that don't meet benchmarks throughout the process risk losing some of their funding. "I have all the confidence that our region is going to pull this off," says Baney, "I would submit that we probably will exceed those targets. But it’s not without risk. If we had vacant buildings to be able to turn into shelter, and operational funds, trust me, we would be doing it today. If we could rapidly rehouse and get people into housing or prevent them from homelessness, and we had the dollars available today, we would do it."


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