SALEM, OR -- Governor Tina Kotek has increased her funding request to reduce homelessness around Oregon and she’s asking the legislature to take immediate action.
Governor Kotek says Multi-Agency Coordinating (MAC) Groups are forming around the state, "It’s a combination of homeless service providers, and public housing authorities, people who operate the shelters right now, landlord groups, behavioral health providers; coming together at a table, with the assistance of the state, to have a community plan."
After testifying in the Oregon House Housing Committee Tuesday, she told reporters the primary focus is on-the-ground operations, "This isn’t elected leaders sitting around having conversations - although, they are obviously an important part of all of this. It’s the people who will sit and have very detailed conversations of ‘how many beds do you have this week? Do we need more beds? What are we doing here?’ So, we’re trying to bring that granularity to the local situation that you would find in an emergency response set up."
If lawmakers approve her package of bills, that emergency response would be applied to five areas she says are hardest hit by the homeless crisis: the Portland metro region, Central Oregon, Lane County, Jackson County and the Salem area. She says the legislature supports her request to increase the price tag from $130 million to $155 million to reach more regions. "$155 million includes $25 million to reach all parts of the state. The difference is, those resources will go to the balance of the state continuum that wasn’t covered in the emergency order."
Kotek recently met with Douglas County officials who she says are already taking action, "They have a homelessness Commission in Roseburg. They’re doing tremendous work in their coordinating. It is possible in our local communities - in our more rural communities - for everybody to be working together. And I will continue to work with our county leaders and city leaders to say ‘this is an emergency. You can’t hide from this challenge. You need to step up; we need to take care of our neighbors’." She says the goal is to keep people from becoming homeless, help get people from the streets into shelters and allow those in shelters to find permanent housing, "It is not just about the resources; it’s about how we work together and how we meet specific goals."