The Senate passed two bills to help address Oregon’s homelessness crisis on Tuesday.
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Senators passed the Affordable Housing and Emergency Homelessness Response Package (House Bills 2001 and 5019) with bipartisan support. The bills now head to Gov. Tina Kotek’s desk for her signature. The package is a response to Kotek’s emergency executive order on homelessness, which she signed in January. Her budget included several initiatives to reduce unsheltered homelessness.
HB 2001 and 5019 commit more than $200 million to increasing Oregon’s housing supply, helping rehouse and shelter people experiencing homelessness, and preventing future homelessness. Sen. Aaron Woods (D-Wilsonville) carried HB 5019 on the floor, and Sen. Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City) was the co-chief sponsor of HB 2001.
Emerson Hamlin, political organizer for the Oregon Nurses Association, provided written testimony supporting HB 2001.
“The bill ensures a focus on youth homelessness prevention, provides innovative approaches to addressing housing supply barriers, and contains critical measures to help prevent eviction-caused homelessness,” Hamlin wrote. “Our members are very supportive of efforts to keep people housed because they consistently see the detrimental impacts of homelessness on patients’ health.”
Jenny Kim, co-chair of the Racial Justice Council’s Committee on Housing and Homelessness, also provided written testimony supporting HB 5019.
“We are grateful for the governor’s leadership in declaring a homelessness state of emergency, and are grateful for all of the leadership in the legislature in addressing this crisis,” Kim wrote. “The issue of homelessness touches every corner of our state, and in some communities the crisis is so severe that it requires our full attention. The amendments of this bill provide support to every community in the state while prioritizing the areas that need the most help.”
The package provides resources for each community in the state to address their specific affordable housing crises. The bills will:
- Fund the governor’s homelessness state of emergency to allow for a coordinated, statewide response to homelessness ($130 million)
- Extend homelessness support to rural and coastal Oregon ($27 million)
- Provide support for homeless youths by connecting them with rental assistance, shelter, culturally-specific services, and healthcare ($25 million)
- Increase the production of affordable modular housing in Oregon ($20 million)
- Improve on-site workforce housing for farmworkers ($5 million)
- Grant renters faced with eviction for nonpayment more time to access rental assistance and other services
- Make affordable housing production the state’s top planning priority, and ensure the state will work with local partners to identify effective strategies and tools to increase production