Through the “Supportive Housing Services Ballot Measure,” Metro, Portland’s regional government, will bring a 250 million dollar ballot measure to the voters for the upcoming May election. After seeing the effects that homelessness has had on Oregon since 2019, the state is nationally ranked fourth for the highest homeless population. Metro decided to react to what they were seeing but also hearing from the community. By putting out this measure, Metro is showing its commitment to helping to combat the homelessness crisis in Oregon. With support from organizations such as Here Together; a group of passionate service providers, business leaders, elected officials, and advocates from the Portland community who work towards solutions on homelessness; and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler; as well as cities in the greater Portland region, this measure is hoping to see success.
The origin of this measure comes from the community. Here Together Coalition collaborated with Metro on this measure. They worked for over two years in order to build regional unity as well as to engage the community and determine the needs for the money coming from this measure. In order to raise those 250 million dollars, if passed, this measure will impose a one percent tax on individuals making 125,000 dollars a year or couples making 200,000 dollars a year. Another tax would also be placed on businesses that gross five million dollars a year. These are both regional taxes being implemented on those in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties.
The money coming from these taxes will be going both to services to reduce homelessness as well as to Metro for administrative purposes and oversight. Only five percent will be going to Metro with the remainder being split among the three counties. Multnomah County would be receiving 45.3 percent, Washington County is slated to receive 33.3 percent, and Clackamas County will receive 21.3 percent. A memo from Metro outlining and detailing the measure says the revenue will fund many services. These services include but are not limited to: affordable housing, rental assistance (both long and short-term), physical services, addiction services, and employment opportunities. The memo states that these services could be implemented differently county by county as there are no specific plans for each county yet. Metro does show their commitment to racial equity by stating that the “Supportive Housing Services Revenue and Supportive Housing Services will be prioritized in a manner that provides equitable access to people of color and other historically marginalized communities.”
In the event that the measure passes, a twenty person oversight committee will be created. This committee will be overseeing the programs and services rolled out. On this committee will be members from Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties as well as representatives from the Portland City Council and the Metro Council. Organizations in the Portland area such as the Portland Business Alliance and the Portland Mayor’s Office are in support of this measure and want to combat the chronic homelessness problem seen in Oregon. Through this measure, Portland and the surrounding areas could see a decrease in the homeless population over the next ten years before the next public vote.