Governor Brown’s four strategies to end homelessness in Oregon

On Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released her comprehensive strategy on how to end child and veteran homelessness and how to make housing more affordable in Oregon.

According to the policy agenda, Brown’s ultimate vision is to increase accessible housing that will enable families to flourish. The agenda includes four strategies that will make the idea become reality. The plan includes $370 million from the state for housing of families with children, veterans, the long-standing homeless, and rural communities. Back in 2017, Brown requested that lawmakers approve $5 million from the Oregon Legislature in order to build shelter for homeless families in the winter.

According to the 2017 Point-In Time-Count, 3,500 of the 13,953 homeless people in Oregon included families with children. Of those people, over half were without any shelter. The Oregon Department of Education states that 23,000 children were homeless or at risk of homelessness during the 2016-17 school year. Also, the 2017 Point-In-Count discovered that there were 1,251 homeless veterans. Overall, 1 out of 4 homeless people are chronically homeless in Oregon. According to the Corporation for Supportive Housing, there is an estimated 12,388 housing units needed to meet the needs of the homeless population. Moreover, Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis found that the median household income in rural Oregon is $41,098, which is close to the rural United States’ median rural income, but rural Oregon has much higher housing prices.

The agenda states that since Brown entered office in 2015, Oregon has a record number of over 7,800 new and affordable homes under development. The four strategies Brown has set in place are to:

  1. Prioritize Ending Children’s Homelessness

Due to the housing market, it is difficult for some families to provide a roof over their children’s head. Some of Brown’s suggestions include developing almost 3,000 units of housing, raising funding amounts for Emergency Housing Assistance, focusing on the 23,000 unsheltered homeless kids who currently go to Oregon schools, and building renters’ availability to legal resources.

  1. House Oregon’s Veterans

The Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) and the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs developed a plan to end veteran homelessness, which entails new infrastructure and resources in permanent housing and emerging housing assistance, as well as a newly hired veteran homeless integrator to work with local communities. Their plan also included a homeless veteran list, which includes resources for street outreach and housing assistance. According to the agenda, 860 homeless veterans have been housed in Lane County from 2014 to 2018.

  1. Invest in Permanent Supportive Housing for the Chronically Homeless

Permanent supportive housing (PHS) is a combination of services that will help the homeless attain stable housing. They can stay in their home as long as they abide to obligations such as paying rent. They have access to support services that will help them keep their housing. The Oregon Health Authority and OHCS are looking into investing in PSH to develop 200 new units of housing with available services, with $20 million of bond proceeds proposed for the construction.

  1. Accelerate Growth of Housing Supply

In Oregon, Brown has discovered a shortage of workforce housing. In 2019, Brown is planning to launch the “Greater Oregon Housing Accelerator” which will use $15 million in resources in order to assist people in living in the same community they work in. Oregon will work on permits for different building types, such as tiny homes and modular housing. The goal is to bring together local communities, the business sector, and developers in order to have the necessary resources to build homes for the work force in Oregon.

Overall, the goal is to triple the already existing pipeline of housing to 25,000 homes by 2023.

“There is no single solution — not one entity, or one person — that can solve the crises across the housing spectrum, from homelessness to stable rental housing to increasing homeownership,” said Brown. “To get people quickly off the street and into permanent homes, it takes collaboration from community partners, from employers and business leaders, every level of government, and concerned citizens. We come from all different walks of life and backgrounds, but when we act together, we can do anything.”