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Speaker Kotek Adds $20 Million to Homelessness, Affordable Housing Proposal

February 12, 2020

Speaker Tina Kotek has added $20 million to her proposal to help Oregon cities deal with rising homelessness.

With the increase, Kotek, D-Portland, is now seeking $140 million for homelessness and affordable housing issues in Oregon. Kotek announced the increase on Wednesday after state forecasts were released that estimate Oregon will receive $183.4 million more in tax and lottery revenue than what economists had predicted in December.

“While the decade-long recovery from the Great Recession hasn’t lifted all boats, many Oregonians have benefitted from a strong economy and our state has maintained reserves to protect essential services in case of a downturn,” Kotek said in a statement.  “In the midst of a statewide housing crisis, I think it’s essential we direct some of our ending fund balance toward helping individuals and families experiencing homelessness get access to shelter.”

The homelessness piece of the proposal is now $60 million. The money will go toward helping Oregon cities build shelters and provide one-time funding so Salem and Eugene can develop navigation centers, which shelter homeless people and connect them to other programs. The proposal also cuts down on the red tape for new shelters by easing the local zoning requirements. 

The other large parts of the request are $20 million to preserve existing affordable housing and $50 million for new affordable housing throughout Oregon.

The remaining $10 million would go toward a variety of programs, including $5 million to help address racial disparities in home ownership and $2.5 million for helping unaccompanied homeless youth. 

The proposal also asks for $200,000 so the state can study how Oregon could have a long-term rental assistance program.

You can reach Ben Botkin at [email protected] or via Twitter @BenBotkin1.