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Rep. Chavez-DeRemer Discusses Homelessness At Roundtable

OREGON CITY, OR -- Oregon Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer held a roundtable Thursday at a homeless outreach center in Oregon City. Homeless advocates told her federal funding regulations prevent them from opening facilities for youth. Chavez-DeRemer says she heard similar complaints during a visit this week to the psych ward at St. Charles in Bend, "Where they’re having crises with their youth as well, oftentimes in a holding room for up to a month because there’s no place for them to be. So, if I’m hearing it here in Clackamas County and I’m hearing it over in Deschutes County, just in my district in a two-day period, about the crisis that we’re in, it’s time for me to do my job."

Clackamas County Commissioner Ben West says addiction is a major factor in homelessness. He’s frustrated the government doesn’t take the issue more seriously, noting 100 Oregonians die every month from substance abuse, "Imagine if a bridge collapsed and a hundred people died, we would have the federal government, the state in a response that would meet the urgency of the tragedy in that moment. But we have that every month in Oregon." He also told Chavez-DeRemer homelessness rates  in Clackamas County have fallen consistently over the last few years, "Some of the counties in Oregon are doing a fantastic job and not all counties should be judged by other counties’ failures. And so, we could really, really use some capital investment, if any of those dollars could come to Oregon."

Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell told her the federal government needs to do more to support local shelters and other services, "I don’t want to talk about the state because you can’t do anything about the state of Oregon. But what you can do as a Congresswoman, is tell Congress to fund counties. And to tell organizations like HUD to see us in the uniqueness that we offer, for the services that we provide for our people in front of us today."

Chavez-DeRemer says she’s looking into a fix, "What they’re asking is, ‘We’re in crisis.’ They need the money today. They need the money yesterday." The Oregon Republican tells KBND News she understands the state is slow to dole out money it gets from the feds, "Is there a way to sometimes bypass the state level, if it’s going to get convoluted under regulation and the money doesn’t hit the ground where they need it most? So, I’m going to ask those questions, because I understand the block grant and how it works."

 

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