PORTLAND, Ore (AP) — Multnomah County commissioners have agreed to cuts across departments to ensure that they can send money to the Joint Office of Homeless Services, which coordinates housing assistance, outreach and other needs for struggling people.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Mayor Ted Wheeler has complained for years that he doesn't expect to be able to match previous contributions to the Joint Office using existing city revenues alone. Even with a $72 million budget for this fiscal year, elected officials have warned that they might ask the public to help out more to maintain or increase those services. And now that rallying cry has reached a new pitch.
At last month's annual meeting of the city and county, Portland Commissioner Nick Fish made a plug for a campaign called Here Together, which aims to ask voters on the November 2020 ballot to fund likely hundreds of millions of dollars for increased social services to complement two current affordable housing bonds.
While there is no price tag yet, the proposal could be in the hundreds of millions. And Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, who is one of the main drivers of the campaign, said the money would go toward on-the-ground workers who can help guide homeless people through the service system, increasing the amount of services available and providing rent assistance to people who are in housing but on the verge of homelessness.