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 traumatic cycle of chronic homelessness, and use resources efficiently and effectively.
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 measures in recent years that will create thousands of affordable housing units and provide essential resources and services for those on their path to stability.
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.
As of 2023, all remaining Portland Housing Bond funds have now been allocated, bringing the total affordable units open or in progress to 1,859 —43% more than initially promised to voters. In total, the housing developments supported by the bond will house over 4,000 Portlanders. You can find the most up to date information about Bond progress at the City of Portland’s website.
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.
As of 2023, there are 3,621 units completed, under construction or in pre construction, thanks to the Metro bond funding. You can find the most up to date information about the Metro affordable housing bond’s progress on Metro’s website.
The Supportive Housing Services Measure
This measure, which voters approved in May 2020 and began coming online in July 2021, provides critical funding for supportive services to accompany the affordable housing construction measures previously passed to ensure that for the next decade, direct service providers will have the resources they need to provide lifesaving support and resources for people transitioning out of homelessness and those at risk of experiencing homelessness in the Portland metro region.
What is the Supportive Housing Services measure?
SHS is a game-changing resource–the LARGEST per capita investment in homeless services in the country. The 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. Thanks to the support of voters and the contributions from a few wealthy taxpayers and businesses, SHS is now being used for addiction and mental health treatment, job training, affordable housing, and funding for service providers.
However, the response must match the crisis on our streets and the needs of our unhoused neighbors.
Scaling up a response to homelessness requires more than just faster spending. HereTogether is pushing to retool how our governments and service providers deliver services, measure our progress, and work together toward our shared vision.
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 is the Supportive Housing Services measure impacting our region?
Our region’s housing affordability and homelessness crisis has reached a critical point. The 2023 tri-county Point In Time count reported 7,480 people experiencing homelessness in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties, up from 6,633 the year before. The one bright spot in the annual report was the 17% decrease in chronic homelessness — an early demonstration of the SHS measure’s potential impact.
Check Metro’s website for the most up-to-date information on SHS’s progress.
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 is funding programs that make a substantial difference in reducing the risk of homelessness.
Our community has come together behind proven solutions to homelessness.