PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The regional government that oversees three counties in the Portland metro area has voted to refer a ballot measure to voters this May that would raise $250 million a year to address chronic homelessness in the region.
The government entity, Metro, voted unanimously on Tuesday to refer two taxes to voters in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Wednesday. The money would be earmarked for supportive services that target the reasons people can become homeless. Those services would include case management, rent assistance, addiction and recovery services, mental health care, and employment support.
“Failure on this is not an option,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “We’ve waited too long, and it is now time to pay for the services that have proven to be effective in addressing the cause of chronic homelessness.”
Metro will ask voters to approve two new taxes May 19.
The first would be a 1% marginal income tax for the wealthiest residents — individuals earning more than $125,000 annually or couples making more than $200,000. That tax would generate $169 million a year, according to Andy Shaw, director of government affairs for Metro.
The second tax would be a 1% business tax on the profits of mid and large-sized businesses, those with gross receipts of more than $5 million dollars.
Peterson’s chief of staff, Paul Slyman, said the money would be distributed based on the population of each county: about 45% would go Multnomah County, 33% for Washington County, and 21% to Clackamas County. Five percent will be left over for “Metro oversight and administration.”
The Portland Business Alliance, the region’s largest chamber of commerce, was opposed to the ballot measure until last week, but said Tuesday it was on board.
“We all recognize the need to provide wraparound services to stabilize our fellow residents in need,” said Andrew Hoan, the business group’s president. “You have our full support.”