Marking her first 100 days in office, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek on Wednesday called on the legislature to approve another $1.3 billion this year to tackle the statewide homelessness emergency. It comes less than a month after the legislature passed a sweeping $200 million housing and homelessness package.
The move comes days after the announcement of tens of millions of dollars across the state from the Housing Emergency Response Package. In a statement released Wednesday, she called that money a “down payment” aimed at keeping 9,000 people from becoming homeless, moving 1,200 into permanent housing and adding 600 shelter beds.
$13.9 million of that is coming to Central Oregon, going toward rehousing 161 households and creating 79 shelter beds.
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Kotek’s office said the new financial request would include $1 billion in bonds to build and preserve more affordable housing and $300 million from the general fund to continue work on housing and homelessness.
In her 100 days announcement, Kotek pushed for a more accessible mental health system, saying it goes hand-in-hand with battling the homeless crisis.
“For those who are also experiencing homelessness, addressing our behavioral health system is complimentary way we can help ensure our housing investments go further. To achieve this, we must disrupt the harmful and expensive homelessness-jail-hospital pipeline, decrease preventable deaths related to a person’s substance use or mental health issue, and stabilize and support the behavioral health workforce,” said Kotek.
And Kotek praised efforts already made toward improving early literacy rates in the state. She highlighted House Bill 3198, of which Rep. Jason Kropf of Bend is a chief sponsor, to establish and early literacy program.