There are proven solutions to homelessness.
Service providers already know how to help people experiencing homelessness in the Portland metro region transition to more stable living. It’s up to all of us to come together, scale up our efforts, and support solutions that can meet the size of the problem head-on.
We know what works to solve homelessness. Here's the progress we've made so far.
More than anything else, access to permanent, affordable housing – combined with supportive services to get people back on their feet – reduces homelessness, breaks the cycle of chronic homelessness, and saves money.
Successful programs create more access to affordable homes, prevent seniors living on Social Security from falling through the cracks, increase income for homeless adults and connect people with services. Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties, along with many specialized nonprofit service providers, have made strides to address growing homelessness in our region through these methods, but they needed to be brought to scale.
Voters in the Portland metro region have passed three ballot measure in recent years that will create thousands of affordable housing units. And as of May 2020, voters also passed a bill to fund the supportive services needed to match those affordable housing units in order to make meaningful and lasting progress.
In 2016, voters passed the Portland Housing Bond
The goal was to create at least 1,300 newly affordable housing units. In 2017, the Portland Housing Bureau began acquiring properties to transform into these affordable homes, collaborating with city leaders, community stakeholders, property owners, and local residents. This is the progress they’ve made:
Source: Portland Housing Bond (July 2020)
In 2018, voters passed the Metro Housing Measure
The $652.8 million affordable housing bond measure was intended to create permanently affordable homes across greater Portland for seniors, working families, veterans, and others in need of them.
Source: Metro (July 2020)
In 2020, voters passed the HereTogether-Metro Regional Supportive Housing Measure
This measure provides critical funding for supportive services to accompany the affordable housing measures previously passed, to ensure that for the next decade, direct service provideres will have the resources they need to provide lifesaving supports for people transitioning out of homelessness and at risk of experiencing homelessess in the Portland metro region. The implementation timeline of this measure is outlined here:
The HereTogether-Metro Homeless Services Measure
What does the HereTogether homeless services measure actually do?
The homeless services measure allows Metro to collect resources and distribute them to county steering committees. This will allow stakeholders to make investments in direct services and make the most impactful local investments in eliminating chronic homelessness and keeping those on the edge from losing control over their housing options.
This measure was designed to raise the funds necessary to match the scale of the crisis without placing a burden on low-and middle-income families. Having been approved by voters on May 19, 2020, this measure created a regional 1% marginal tax rate on taxable income over $200,000 a year (joint/household) or $125,000 a year (single), and a 1% business net profits tax for regional businesses with sales over $5 million. While originally this measure was projected to raise $250 million a year, the reality of the economic impact of COVID-19 is still being assessed. What remains the same is that all funds will be spent in the county generated, and funding decisions will be made at the local county level via a committee of community and business leaders, service providers, and government officials. Independent annual audits will be posted online for public review.
What can we do?
First, you can show your support. Click here to add your name to the list of HereTogether partners as an individual and/or on behalf of your organization or business.
How will the HereTogether homeless services measure impact our region?
Across Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, 5,000 – 12,000 people sleep outside or in a shelter every night. Thousands more sleep in cars or doubled up in spaces not meant for sleeping. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, as many as 56,000 families in our region were a paycheck (or less) away from becoming homeless. Now due to COVID-19, for many of these people, the worst has happened: devastating personal situations such as losing a job, an unexpected medical bill or even needing car repair could be forcing them out of their home and onto the streets.
For people currently experiencing homelessness, we already know what services work to help people transition out of homelessness and prevent homelessness in the first place — we have just needed the ability to fund these services to scale. Through this measure, our community has the investment we need to effectively transform the reality of our chronic homeless crisis.
Services provided through this measure will impact: seniors, children, women escaping domestic violence, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ folks, and veterans. Additionally, this measure will fund programs that make a substantial difference in reducing the risk of homelessness.
How will we know funds will get to where they need to go?
All funding decisions will be made by local boards with community and stakeholder involvement as outlined above. Administrative costs will be capped by law at 5%, audited and reviewed annually by the Regional Oversight Committee. Spending and outcomes will also be subject to an accountability review by the counties’ oversight and implementation committees. Finally, an independent annual audit will be conducted and results posted online for public review.
When will the funds be available? When can we expect to see change?
The tax collection system will be established and as of January 1, 2021, new tax requirements will begin. Personal income tax revenue could be available as soon as July 2021. The first annual revenue from business income tax will begun to be collected in April 2022.
Once the revenue becomes available, it will be distributed to the counties based on their collection percentages: 45.3% to Multnomah County, 33.3% to Washington County, and 21.3% to Clackamas County.
We know that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there will be an increase in people experiencing homelessness and a decrease in the revenue this measure will produce for the first few years. But, this measure will be collecting revenue annually for ten years. We have every confidence that over the course of the next decade, those numbers will flip, and we will see decreasing homelessness, an increase in revenue, and more people successfully transitioning into safe, stable, supported housing.
Our community has come together behind proven solutions to homelessness.