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Oregon lawmakers vote to expedite emergency shelter process

Senate passage sends bill to Gov. Brown's desk

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A lack of adequate shelter beds has long plagued Oregon. Recently, it was estimated that 10,000 people in the state sleep outside on any given night — a number that has likely increased during the pandemic.

On Monday, Oregon lawmakers passed a bill that they say will make it easier and quicker for communities to create emergency shelters and temporary housing.

House Bill 2006, which passed the Senate 26-1 after earlier House approval, will remove barriers to siting shelters by temporarily adjusting land use laws and waiving some design, planning and zoning regulations. The bill, which is awaiting consideration by Gov. Kate Brown, would expire in July 2022, although shelters could remain open.

“Multiple cities have come out in support of the bill because they recognize the need in their communities — in every community — for us to take steps toward alleviating the suffering of our neighbors who have lost their housing,” Sen. Deb Patterson, a Salem Democrat, said during the Legislature’s floor session. “It should not take an emergency for us to recognize this need. But we are in an emergency now. We must act.”

Shelters would still be required to comply with certain building codes, along with meeting public health and safety requirements.

A similar bill was passed in June but expired after 90 days.

“Sleeping outside is not safe, and providing an opportunity for safety either in shelter or an affordable home is critical,” Alison McIntosh, a spokesperson for the Oregon Housing Alliance, said in her testimony on the bill.

Read more at:

News release from Oregon Senate Democrats:

Oregon Senate Improves Shelter Options for Oregonians

SALEM – The Oregon Senate passed House Bill 2006 today, a bill that allows local governments greater flexibility in siting emergency shelter locations.

While the nation battled the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the northwest experienced the compounding tragedy of devastating wildfires. Those wildfires led to the loss of homes, businesses, communities and lives. Many Oregonians have been displaced, many have lost jobs, and many have confronted extreme loss.

“Prior to COVID-19 taking hold in our state, many were suffering due to our housing crisis,” said Senator Deb Patterson (D-Salem) who carried House Bill 2006 to passage. “Our housing emergency preceded, and has been exacerbated, in the past year. And it’s harmed our vulnerable community members disproportionately,” Senator Patterson added.

House Bill 2006 was introduced by Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and championed in the Oregon Senate by Senator Deb Patterson. The bill will remove bureaucratic obstacles for local governments who want to provide care and shelter to struggling community members.

“Any delay in providing shelter could cost lives. By passing House Bill 2006, we ensure our local governments can best serve their residents. They will be more equipped to provide safety, rest and healing by offering shelter to their neighbors,” Senator Patterson added.

House Bill 2006 passed the Oregon House April 5. The bill has an emergency clause and will be enacted when the Governor signs it into law.

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  1. We can start by using all of the empty parking garages upon state buildings in Portland and Salem to put up emergency shelters every evening from 7pm through 6am. And there is significant space at Mahonia Hall in Salem as its 10,000 square feet could easily be reconfigured to deal with the significant transient population currently under the various I-5 underpasses in the State Capitol. Kate Brown can lead by example on this one as she has a full time residence that is not the Governor’s mansion.

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