Homelessness has become a critical problem in the Portland Metro area and Tigard. Much needs to be done to adequately tackle and solve this problem, but it’s going to take many hands.
Homelessness is near and dear to my heart. I have spent the last year visiting homeless shelters around the state and talking with leaders that are helping people get off the streets. The impact that the Mayor can make is limited but it doesn’t mean that something can’t be done on a city level. Below is my plan to tackle homelessness within the role of Tigard Mayor.
Adding and Expanding Models that Work
The most successful models for combatting homelessness all have similar characteristics.
- Establishes a personal level of accountability.
- Builds trust between participants and staff.
- Allows avenues for upward mobility.
- Includes wrap around services such as healthcare, mental health resources, drug and alcohol counseling, job readiness, childcare, and legal aid.
- Involves the entire community which often includes the local police as a resource.
- Most importantly, these programs show real, quantifiable results for getting people off the streets and into long-term housing.
One example of this kind of program is Rogue Retreat in Medford. They have a 60% success rate of getting people off the streets, with jobs, and into long-term housing within a year.
Conversely, the programs that are not successful do not provide a holistic approach or establish accountability. Day shelters and housing-first models like the City of Portland’s Safe Rest Villages do not create accountability or include wrap-around services. Programs with revolving door policies continue to exacerbate the problem and offer no long term help to the individual or the community.
We can’t talk about homelessness without talking about emergency shelter and affordable housing. As a city, we must ensure that we have adequate inventory of all types of housing. Beyond that, we must ensure that the system is moving and allowing people to move up and establish control and consistency over their lives.
Emergency shelter and affordable housing must include wrap-around services including mental health counseling, job training, childcare, and caseworkers. At the same time, the city must be expanding its offering of housing to include condos, townhomes, and starter homes. People must be given the opportunity to purchase rather than rent so that they can build equity.
Funding a Solution
The State of Oregon and Washington County have set aside a copious amount of tax dollars to tackle homelessness, mental health, and addiction. The problem is that the money is not flowing where it needs to in a timely manner. As mayor of Tigard, a city of over 50,000 residents, I will be a voice that demands we benefit from that money and it flows into programs that meet the criteria I mentioned above.
Washington County Funding
Currently, funds are set aside on both the county and state levels. In May 2020, voter’s in the Metro area passed Measure 26-210 which created the Supportive Housing Services program. The measure is estimated to generate $2 billion in ten years with a third of that being distributed to Washington County. In 2022, $50.3M was allocated to Washington County.
State of Oregon Funding
Also in 2020, voters across the state passed Measure 110 which decriminalized hard drugs and took money from marijuana sales to fund drug treatment and recovery services. In 2022, roughly $20.5M of Measure 110 funds are allocated to Washington County.
The city does not currently have a fund set aside to deal with homelessness. As mayor, I will cut wasteful city spending on things like task forces that add nothing to solving the problems that Tigard is facing.
Solving homelessness in Tigard requires keeping Portland accountable. As mayor, I will push back aggressively and lobby for changes all across the state to make the changes necessary within our community. As such, I will push for better communication between all shelters and homeless services across the state and leverage technology where possible. We cannot solve this problem alone.