The voters of greater Portland again affirmed their commitment to regional solutions to our biggest challenges, with 57% of voters saying yes to a decade-long supportive housing plan administered by Metro. Measure 26-210 funds services, including health care, case management, job training and rent assistance, for people experiencing or on the brink of homelessness.
The framework for this plan was developed by a group of service providers, business leaders and advocates, led by the Here Together coalition. Funding for it will come from a marginal tax on high earners and a business tax that exempts small enterprises.
“It’s been said over and over that we won’t be returning to the ‘old normal,’ and we need a new, better normal,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “Support for everyone in our region should be, and will be, a part of that.”
Under the plan approved by voters, couples earning more than $200,000 per year and individuals earning more than $125,000 will pay a 1% tax on any income exceeding those figures — this means, for example, that a couple earning $201,000 will pay $10 in taxes. Businesses with gross receipts of $5 million or more per year will also pay a 1% tax on profits.
Metro will distribute resources from the measure to the counties, which will provide the services with assistance from nonprofits and other groups working to support those experiencing homelessness.
“At a time when our community is in crisis, it is critical that we come together to support the most vulnerable among us,” said Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington. “With your vote on the Here Together Homeless Services measure, that’s exactly what you did. Thank you to the voters of Washington County for stepping up to help us meet the scale and severity of our homeless crisis head on.”
As the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reverberate across the region, the approval of this plan conveys a strong message by the people of greater Portland that ending homelessness is a top priority that requires regional approach.
“This is a 10-year effort. The last decade started with some of the darkest economic times in memory and ended with extreme wealth inequality,” said Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González. “This will help to ensure that we have the resources to help those who most need it.”