$27 Million Homeless Proposal Meeting Heated

A council meeting got heated in opposition to building a network of large sites where homeless people would be allowed to camp. The $27 million dollar proposal put forth by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is part of the camping ban plan that would phase in once six designated camping areas have been built over 18 months. The vote was pushed back as the opposition to the proposal became disruptive.

Reports state that the six designated campsites would initially serve up to 150 people, with 24-hour management, access to services such as food, hygiene, litter collection and treatment for mental health and substance abuse. Wheeler said he thinks $27 million would cover about half the costs of creating the sanctioned campsites. He also stated that other government entities would also have to contribute.

Last Wednesday, Oregon Governor-elect Tina Kotek met with Portland Mayor Wheeler to discuss the proposal. Kotek said she generally supports the plan and will closely watch developments. She said she would like to engage frequently with the mayor of the largest city in Oregon. She considers this an urgent issue.

Other mayors around the state have this issue as well. Sky-high property prices and a shortage of 111,000 housing units in Oregon have helped to create current the houseless crisis. Kotek says solving the housing crisis will be her top priority.

The Oregon Mayors Association has asked the Legislature for $124 million annually “for this crisis to be humanely and timely addressed.” The mayors stated that the $124M amount wouldn’t cover the construction of shelter and transitional housing projects statewide.

The Portland proposal would amend the city’s budget for the current fiscal year to include these projections. The $27 million would help launch the first three campsites, with nearly half going toward their operational costs for the remainder of the fiscal year. About $4 million of it would be directed to the sites’ preparation and construction.