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Gov. Kotek releases details of ‘urgent’ request to lawmakers for $130 million to reduce homelessness

KTVZ file

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — Gov. Tina Kotek announced details Thursday of her urgent request to state lawmakers to invest $130 million toward reducing the number of unsheltered Oregonians this year.

Currently, she said, there are about 18,000 Oregonians experiencing homelessness in Oregon, and approximately 11,000 of those households are unsheltered. This request was paired with a statewide emergency order declaring a Homelessness State of Emergency, signed on January 10, the Governor’s first full day in office.

Kotek said the spending package will aim to provide immediate relief to at least 1,200 unsheltered Oregonians, prevent nearly 9,000 households from becoming homeless, expand the state’s shelter capacity by 600 new beds, increase sanitation services, and ensure a coordinated, equitable response to the homelessness emergency.

The package will invest in both statewide strategies as well as focused investments to reduce unsheltered homelessness in emergency areas. The Governor has had preliminary conversations with legislative leaders and looks forward to working with them to finalize the package. Her initial proposal includes the following elements:

Prevent vulnerable households from becoming homeless 
$33.6 million to prevent 8,750 households from becoming homeless by funding rent assistance and other eviction prevention services.

Add shelter beds and housing navigators
$23.8 million to add 600 low-barrier shelter beds statewide and hire more housing navigators to ensure unsheltered Oregonians can get connected to the shelter and services they need.

Rehouse unsheltered households
$54.4 million to rehouse at least 1,200 unsheltered households by funding prepaid rental assistance, block leasing at least 600 vacant homes, landlord guarantees and incentives, and other re-housing services.

Support Oregon Tribes 
$5 million to support emergency response directly to the nine sovereign tribes in the State of Oregon.

Ensure equitable outcomes 
$5 million to increase capacity for culturally responsive organizations to support equitable outcomes of the homelessness state of emergency.

Support local sanitation services 
$2 million to support local communities for sanitation services.

Coordinate emergency response 
$1.8 million to support the emergency response being coordinated by the Office of Emergency Management and Oregon Housing and Community Services.

 These urgent investments will address the homelessness emergency facing communities across Oregon today, but it is only one piece of the larger strategy required to address this humanitarian crisis, Kotek said.

The governor’s recommended budget builds on these targeted investments to ensure we are reducing homelessness and providing resources to address this issue in every corner of the state.

Oregon must simultaneously address its lack of affordable housing, she said. That will take local, state, federal, nonprofit, and private sectors working together to make progress towards an ambitious statewide housing production target of 36,000 homes per year — an 80 percent increase over recent construction trends.  

“I am urging the Legislature to take up this investment package as quickly as possible. Unsheltered Oregonians need relief now, and our local communities need the support to provide that relief. This is only the first step. Together, we can act with the urgency people across our state are demanding. Bold ideas, concrete solutions, disciplined follow through. That’s how we can deliver results, this year, and in the years to follow,”  Kotek stated.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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