05-25-2020  8:57 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Marcus Mundy, Executive Director, Coalition of Communities of Color, HereTogether board member and Robert Stoll, Board Chair, HereTogether
Published: 11 May 2020

Equity is a vital component of resilient communities, and this is why the homeless Ballot Measure 26-210 is needed more than ever. Though this measure was referred to the ballot by Metro, it was written by the HereTogether coalition, where half of the board members are people of color and which developed a racial equity statement to ground this measure from the beginning. By centering racial equity in the HereTogether policy and governance frameworks, the measure prioritizes race and equity, ensuring critical services are directed toward groups who have been historically overlooked or discriminated against, creating a thriving community that will benefit all its members.

The truth is, people of color are far more likely to experience homelessness; specifically, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinxs, and Native Americans are disproportionately homeless as documented by reports by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, ECONorthwest economists, and others.

Metro Measure 26-210 outlines equitable priorities from the beginning, stating “Supportive Housing Services Revenue and Supportive Housing Services will be prioritized in a manner that provides equitable access to people of color and other historically marginalized communities.” The oversight and implementation committees must include persons “representing underserved and/or marginalized communities,” and “culturally responsive and culturally specific services” are emphasized throughout the ballot measure.

“This will make a huge difference in the lives of tens of thousands of our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Katrina Holland, HereTogether Advisory Committee Chair.

“Once this ballot measure is passed, we know that we’ll be putting more people into housing and on a path to success than ever before.”

While there are several causes of homelessness, societal inequalities - such as exclusionary zoning laws, overcharging for housing, disproportionate rates of evictions, fewer opportunities for homeownership, gentrification, and economic opportunity disparities - lead to a disproportionate representation of people of color and other marginalized groups among people experiencing homelessness. Our community is only as strong as our values. We must stand together to show support for the type of community in which we want to live.

Measure 26-210 will not be a drag on economic recovery. Only large and profitable businesses, and individuals with high net taxable income will be taxed. Measure 26-210 exempts 94% of businesses and 90% of households, so that only those that can well afford to help, will pay. With tax funds from this measure not coming due until April 2022, the regional economy will undoubtedly have adapted to the effects of the coronavirus by that time.

Measure 26-210 will ensure that our entire community will come out of both the coronavirus and the housing crises a stronger, morally responsible, and more resilient community, together. this is why 450 organizations and community leaders support the measure.

For more information, visit www.weareheretogether.org.

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