A proposed pilot program from Rep. Jason Kropf would create regional collaboratives between cities and counties to try and better address homelessness.
The proposal, LC 218, would build out a pilot project to provide local coordination between cities and counties to tackle homelessness. These pilot sites would each receive $1 million, over two years, as seed money to set up the programs. The bill and pilot project is being developed by Kropf and the League of Oregon Cities along with the Association of Oregon Counties. Kropf outlined this plan during a House Interim Committee on Housing meeting on Jan. 12.
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While the pilot would not offer new services on its own, it would increase communication and coordination between municipalities and allow them to identify gaps in services. The program would come with four basic standards that include working with regional partners, establishing oversight boards in the regions, develop a five-year strategic plan to identify service gaps, and commit to finding ways to sustain funding beyond the two years the state will provide money. The regional collaboratives will further report back to the legislature on their progress.
Kropf said the ultimate goal is to further the work of getting people first into shelter, and then into more permanent housing. The response they’ve received when proposing the idea has been overwhelming, he said.
“We have countless people in my community working on this issue and I think that is a real strength,” he said.
The counties that could participate in the program are Benton, Coos, Deschutes, a collaborative of Hood River-Wasco-Sherman, Polk, Umatilla, and Lincoln counties.
There were questions raised during the committee meeting about whether the counties and cities would continue funding programs after state funding ended. Ariel Nelson, a lobbyist with the League of Oregon Cities, said addressing that issue is a key part of the conversation with members. The state funding is similar to seed startup money, she said, and ongoing funding could look different depending on which community the programs are operating in and what level of funding is required.
In an interview with Bend Source, Kropf said cities are in a good position to address zoning and planning issues, while counties can provide health services. By combining the expertise of both, it could create a stronger coordination with other groups like nonprofits and faith organizations.