Recognizing that the housing crisis is a regional problem that requires regional solutions, the voters of greater Portland approved a historic measure in May 2020 establishing a regional supportive housing services program to address homelessness and help people find and keep safe, stable, affordable housing across the region. The program, which brings an unprecedented level of funding, calls for close collaboration between Metro, Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties. That collaboration reached a new milestone Thursday as the Metro Council approved an intergovernmental agreement that sets the framework for cooperation with the counties. Funding for the program started flowing in July 2021 via a revenue sharing agreement that made it possible for the work to begin even before the first tax revenues could be collected.
The agreement clearly establishes Metro’s role as the regional convener in charge of collecting taxes and distributing funds for this program while also providing oversight, and accountability. The counties’ responsibilities are to implement and demonstrate progress toward the strategies and goals outlined in each of their local implementation plans, which were approved by Metro Council in the spring of 2021. The agreement also lays out the structures that will ensure transparent oversight and accountability, including yearly fiscal plans that outline how funds will be invested and yearly work-plans that identify programmatic goals for each fiscal year.
Metro brings strength and experience to the program as a regional funder, convener and coordinator. The Counties bring decades of experience and established mechanisms for service delivery to populations experiencing homelessness and extreme housing instability. The intergovernmental agreement leverages these strengths and sets a pathway for Metro to provide fiscal and programmatic oversight, ensuring accountability and the effective implementation of the SHS program. This program and intergovernmental agreement is a milestone in government working better together.
“I’m pleased to see the completion of several months of hard work and negotiation,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “I see these contracts as the beginning of a very long and positive relationship between the counties and Metro, using our unique strengths as government to deliver to the voters a transformative program.”
The intergovernmental agreement approved by Metro on Wednesday must now go through an approval process in each of the counties. Approvals are expected to be final by the end of January 2022.