FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Portland City Council proposes reallocation of $7 million to fund rent assistance
The amendment seeks to address the gap in funding for Portlanders facing eviction when rent protections expire in December 2022
Thursday, November 17, 2022—Today, Commissioner Dan Ryan filed an amendment during the 2022 City Council Fall Budget Monitoring Process directing the Portland Housing Bureau to refrain from advancing $7 million in funding currently allocated for the County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services should the County Commission not approve additional resources for emergency rental assistance.
“This asks delivers on the City’s commitment to keep Portlanders housed,” said Commissioner Dan Ryan. “Now is the time for the City, County, Metro and our partners at the State to leverage innovation as well as common sense solutions to address the multiple crises we face.”
Recently, City Council has been engaged in thoughtful and productive conversations about five resolutions that include homeless services, diversion programs, accelerated construction of affordable housing, workforce activation and the creation of career pipelines. Today, investments were approved to ensure steps are taken infuse innovation, creativity, common sense, compassion, and truth.
Portlanders want action and results from the investments they make when they vote—regardless of whether the investments come from Metro’s Here Together measure, or from the County via funds from the Supportive Housing Services program — or by way of City funds dedicated to the Joint Office of Homeless Services. This City Council is committed to deliver on the promises of the measures Portland residents supported.
So far, in the current fiscal year, the City of Portland has officially allocated $40.3 million to Multnomah County to run the County’s Joint Office for Homeless Services. This doesn’t include the ARPA resources for the motel shelters and other COVID-19 related costs ($8 million)—or any funds the City provides the County for the service provision of Safe Rest Villages.
With those outgoing investments, the City has very limited additional resources for rent assistance through the end of the fiscal year. As such, the City need to create some bridge financing to respond to this crisis and sort out the revenue streams for the long-term.
Last month, all the COVID emergency tenant protections expired creating a new wave of eviction filings. Locally, and across the state, we are seeing unprecedented levels of eviction filings with the month of October showing more than 800 filings in Multnomah County, over 700 of these were due to non-payment of rent.
We are also bracing for the next potential wave of eviction filings that will come with the new state rent increase cap of 14.6%.
While we address the local need for a much better first response system to those who are homeless, as we build much better on-ramps to connect those chronically and newly unhoused to permanent housing, we must avoid an avalanche of rental evictions to only add hundreds who are rent-burdened from becoming homeless.
Therefore, we are calling on the County to redirect their unallocated surplus funds toward this need to ensure that Portland renters can remain housed for the entirety of 2024.
If the County votes not to approve additional funding for rental assistance the approved amendment directs the Housing Bureau to, “take action to reappropriate the $7 million in City funds towards rental assistance and eviction legal defense financial assistance.”
With the addition of a friendly amendment from Commissioner Rubio and unanimous support of City Council, the final directive reads:
Motion to make the following adjustments to item 979 as filed to include Directive F:
In addition to adjusting to any reallocated Joint Office of Homeless Services funding included in the exhibits to this Ordinance, the Portland Housing bureau shall refrain from advancing $7 million of the funding allocated in the current year’s budget to support the Joint Office of Homeless Services unless and until the County Commission approves an additional allocation of at least $15 million for eviction prevention. The County is planning to vote on a proposal to increase funding towards rental assistance in December. Should the County not approve this additional funding, the City will take action to reappropriate the $7 million in City funds towards rental assistance.