Multnomah County Passes $3.96 Billion Budget, Focusing On Homelessness And Behavioral Health Services

In a significant move to address the pressing issue of homelessness and behavioral health services, Multnomah County commissioners passed a groundbreaking $3.96 billion budget on Thursday. The budget aims to provide crucial support to individuals in need and implement comprehensive harm reduction efforts. 

While the budget covers various aspects of social services, attention has been drawn to the allocation of funds for supplies such as tents and clean syringes. Although these expenses represent a small fraction of the overall budget, they have sparked some controversy among local leaders.

Recognizing the importance of immediate assistance, the budget includes $230,000 for the distribution of approximately 6,500 tents. These tents serve as lifelines for many individuals experiencing homelessness, providing them with essential shelter and protection.

Additionally, the budget sets aside $515,000 for the distribution of five million clean syringes, a critical component of harm reduction efforts. This funding aims to combat the spread of diseases and promote safer practices among individuals who use injectable substances.

However, it is important to note that these supplies are just a fraction of the comprehensive budget. The county is also allocating substantial funds towards expanding shelter beds, facilitating the operation of a 24/7 sobering center, and implementing a plan to house half of the individuals currently living on the streets of Multnomah County by the end of the next year.

Commissioner Brim-Edwards, a leading advocate for these initiatives, expressed the importance of a holistic approach to address homelessness and behavioral health issues. The budget reflects a commitment to providing immediate relief while also investing in long-term solutions.