The challenge of homelessness is both deeply personal and fundamentally regional, affecting thousands of people and every community in the greater Portland region. In May 2020, the region's voters stepped up to this challenge by passing Measure 26-210, the nation's largest-ever per-capita investment to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness find safe, stable and supportive housing.
Metro, the region's three counties, and an array of community organizations, service providers and stakeholders immediately went to work – undertaking unprecedented regional coordination, analysis and community engagement to fulfill the will of voters and work together to provide lifechanging services for people and families who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness all across the region.
A new chapter in the regional supportive housing services program begins this week. On July 1, Metro and Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties begin active program investment for the program, following the approval of local implementation plans and an intergovernmental agreement by the Metro Council and each county's board of commissioners.
"Hope is here. Following a year of investment planning and inclusive engagement to launch this brand-new program, Metro and our partners are ready for this game-changing investment to rebuild lives and restore communities," said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. "Driven by accountability to regional outcomes, yet built through local knowledge and opportunities, this innovative program provides a collaborative balance to deliver what our communities demand. Together, we will help thousands of people and families across the region move from insecurity and distress to safety and stability."
The measure's investments are expected to help end homelessness for as many as 5,000 people experiencing prolonged homelessness with complex disabilities, as well as 10,000 households experiencing or at risk of shorter-term homelessness. Current estimates of homelessness in the greater Portland region range between 6,000 and 12,000 people.
The measure's implementation is guided by regionally-established outcomes and oversight. Metro is convening regional conversations about shared data collection, evaluation and reporting standards, and is also leading the development of regional long-term rent assistance program standards, a first for the greater Portland region.
How to find help
If you or your family are experiencing homelessness, find help toll free by dialing 2-1-1 to learn about available services, including emergency and transitional housing as well as support services to assist with permanent housing.
In addition, you can call your county's coordinated housing access hotline at the number below:
- Multnomah County: 844-765-9384
- Washington County: 503-640-3263
- Clackamas County: 503-655-8575
Local actions, regional results
Much of the supportive housing services measure's implementation will happen at the local level, led by Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. Beginning last fall, each county developed a local implementation plan through inclusive community engagement and analysis of locally-specific inequities, gaps and opportunities to advance regional outcomes, including advancing racial equity and creating housing stability.
Despite a global pandemic, thousands of community members participated in shaping the counties' plans through scores of virtual meetings, research surveys, discussion groups and other online engagement activities. In alignment with the goals of the regional measure, the counties partnered with community-based organizations to ensure their plans center the voices and experiences of people of color and people with lived experience of homelessness.
After careful review and recommendations from the independent Regional Oversight Committee, the counties' local implementation plans were each approved by the Metro Council this spring. The plans now serve as framework for the first phase of the ten-year measure's implementation in each county.
“Our ask to voters across the region through the ballot was exceedingly clear: help fund more supportive housing services, a proven solution for ending people's homelessness. Overwhelmingly, they said yes. And now, after building a plan shaped by working closely with the community and listening deeply to hundreds of people with lived experience, we can finally begin using these new resources to scale up services that provide stable, supportive housing and save lives,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “Because of these funds, hundreds more people will be in homes of their own just this year. Hundreds more people will be in new shelter spaces, and even more people will connect with outreach workers and health services. And as this work progresses, thousands of our neighbors surviving outside now will find safety, stability and a path forward in homes of their own.”
"We have listened to our community and heard from seniors on fixed incomes who can’t afford to keep up with rising rents, youth who don’t have a safe place to stay at night, working families who have lost everything, and people living with disabling conditions who need extra supports to be successful in housing," said Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington. "We look forward to implementing this life saving program in partnership with Metro, Clackamas and Multnomah County, to address this crisis head on."
"For too long we have lacked the resources necessary to meet the need in our region. On Tuesday, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners took a critical step toward ending our chronic homeless crisis," said Clackamas County Commissioner Sonya Fischer. "Thanks to the Supportive Housing Services measure, and the collaboration among our local and regional partners, we are working toward a future where homelessness is rare and brief."
Early wins from counties' plans
In the first year of implementation, the counties will undertake a wide range of investments to address their communities' specific needs. Some first-year highlights include:
- Rent assistance and other support services so 1,300 households can leave homelessness by accessing homes already on the market.
- Another 400-plus year-round shelter beds, including motel spaces, alternative shelters and traditional shelters.
- Three new Navigation Teams doing intensive, services-focused street outreach
- New housing resources to immediately help people who are already working with Multnomah County’s Behavioral Health Division.
For more about Multnomah County’s plan, see this page.
- In the first year, create 500 supportive housing placements, add 100 year-round shelter beds to the county's shelter system, and build an equitable system of care to better meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
- Washington County recently qualified 38 organizations to partner with the County as providers of Supportive Housing Services. The providers will offer vital culturally responsive and culturally specific services intentionally serving Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, Asian, Pacific Islander and other communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness and housing instability.
- The county's work begins by launching two Bridge Shelter programs and approximately 35 new housing case managers working to help people experiencing homelessness attain and maintain stable housing.
For more about Washington County's plan, see this page.
- Expand culturally specific services across the entire system of care, including investments in capacity building for culturally specific providers.
- Increase outreach and safety-off-the-streets capacities, with strong links to permanent housing placement.
- Expand wrap-around supportive services, including behavioral health services.
- Ongoing engagement with communities of color to continually improve and refine strategies to advance racial equity in program implementation.
Read Clackamas County's approved Local Implementation Plan:
The supportive housing services program is funded by two new regional taxes approved by the voters: a 1% personal income tax on taxable income above $125,000 for individuals and $200,000 for those filing jointly, and a 1% business income tax on net income for businesses with gross receipts above $5 million. The area's three counties will receive regional funds proportional to the amount of revenue expected to be raised in each.
This is greater Portland's first regional personal and business income tax program. The City of Portland Revenue Division is managing tax collection for the program through an agreement with Metro. Learn more here.
In the months ahead, Metro will work with the counties to convene a Tri-County Advisory Body to further develop and identify regional outcome metrics and recommend best practices to achieve them. Meanwhile, the independent Regional Oversight Committee will monitor implementation and conduct annual reporting to ensure accountability to the region's voters and communities.
For more information on implementation, visit each partner's Supportive Housing Services page: