SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek's office released a statement on Thursday outlining her $130 million budget request for lawmakers to begin addressing unsheltered homelessness across the state.
One of Kotek's first official acts as governor was to declare a state of emergency for homelessness, with one controversial aspect — it applies only to counties where the unsheltered homeless population increased by 50% or more between 2017 and 2022. A number of counties were thus left out of the state of emergency.
At the same time, Kotek teased a $130 million package to begin tackling homelessness from a few different avenues.
An estimated 18,000 people are currently experiencing homelessness in Oregon, Kotek's office said, about 11,000 of them unsheltered. The plan would aim to provide shelter to at least 1,200 people, prevent another 9,000 people from becoming homeless, expand the state's shelter capacity, and address other related needs.
The new details released Thursday outlined where that funding is intended to go, according to Kotek's office:
- Preventing 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.
- Adding 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.
- Rehousing 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.
- Supporting Oregon Tribes
- $5 million to support emergency response directly to the nine sovereign tribes in the State of Oregon.
- Ensuring equitable outcomes
- $5 million to increase capacity for culturally responsive organizations to support equitable outcomes of the homelessness state of emergency.
- Supporting local sanitation services
- $2 million to support local communities for sanitation services.
- Coordinating emergency response
- $1.8 million to support the emergency response being coordinated by the Office of Emergency Management and Oregon Housing and Community Services.
According to the governor's office, the funding package is just "one piece of the larger strategy" needed to address what amounts to a humanitarian crisis. Kotek's recommended budget would expand on the initial investments.
The governor's office said that Oregon would need separately need to address the lack of affordable housing, with an ambitious statewide housing production target of 36,000 homes per year, or an 80% 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 said in a statement.