Implementation of Metro’s Supportive Housing Services program will soon begin in Washington County after a unanimous Metro Council voted to approve the county’s plan to achieve the goals of the program. Multnomah County’s plan was approved earlier this month, and Clackamas County’s is expected to be approved in June. Together, the three local plans provide a framework to address and prevent homelessness across the region.
Metro’s Supportive Housing Services program was created thanks to voter support of a groundbreaking measure that will bring health care, case management, job training and rent assistance to people experiencing or on the brink of homelessness. These local implementation plans — high-level sets of strategies to achieve the desired outcomes of the program — were a key part of the measure approved by voters in May 2020.
Voters recognized that homelessness in greater Portland is a regional challenge that requires careful coordination between the various jurisdictions — but also that the particulars are different in each locality. The supportive housing services program is an opportunity to scale up what works locally, while making sure the region is working together as a whole.
Each county’s plan must describe their local housing and homeless service needs, current and unmet services, and proposed use of funds. They are reviewed by a local stakeholder advisory body as week as the Regional Oversight Committee prior to approval by the Metro Council.
The plan developed by Washington County was unanimously recommended by the Oversight Committee. “This plan is a serious effort to evaluate the need in Washington County for the kinds of services eligible under this measure,” said Councilor Mary Nolan. “They made a plan that focuses on the near term about getting up to speed, building capacity and delivering services. They also acknowledged that while they have a long term objective of permanent housing, there are immediate needs that require a simultaneous response.”
In approving the plan, Metro councilors also highlighted the county’s thoughtful approach to community engagement. “They had an iterative public engagement process that brought their preliminary plans back to the public to verify whether they were on track with the public’s recommendations,” pointed Nolan.
Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington thanked Metro for approving the plan. “This comes on the heels of your bravery to help pull us all together as a region and recognize that homelessness is a critical problem that we can solve together,” she said addressing the Metro Council. “I especially appreciate and value your oversight and leadership to ensure that we are trusted partners in putting the public’s dollars into action.”
Approval of the framework means that it will be incorporated into an upcoming implementation agreement between Metro and Multnomah County. The county's work will be subject to ongoing monitoring and evaluation by the oversight committee and Metro Council as the Supportive Housing measure investments begin this summer, and proceed in the years to come.