Portland metro voters will decide on May 19th whether to fund enhanced homeless services by levying new taxes on businesses and high-income earners. Join top policy and business leaders as they consider the implications for the health care sector, the economy, and the community at large.
Tina Kotek (D) is the longest-serving Speaker of the House in Oregon history and the first openly lesbian speaker of any state house in the nation. She has been a longtime champion for increasing access to housing and health care for all Oregonians. Speaker Kotek represents House District 44, North and NE Portland. Most recently, she guided the Oregon Legislature to pass the first statewide laws in the country to combat rent gouging and to re-legalize “missing middle” housing in areas previously reserved for detached single family housing. She also expanded funding and access to the state’s Medicaid program, helped to create a paid family medical leave insurance program, and championed the Student Success Act to increase funding for the state’s preK-12 public education system by $1 billion per year, among other accomplishments.
Speaker Kotek can be reached at: Rep.TinaKotek@oregonlegislature.gov
Ted Wheeler serves as Portland’s Mayor. He previously served as the Chair of Multnomah County and as Treasurer for the State of Oregon. Mayor Wheeler is a sixth-generation Oregonian, was born in Portland, and is a proud Lincoln Cardinal. As Mayor, Ted is working with his Council colleagues to advance a progressive agenda grounded in equity and focused on climate justice, housing for all, and a more transparent and accountable public safety system. As he leads the city’s COVID-19 emergency response, Mayor Wheeler is prioritizing our most vulnerable residents and businesses, and he is committed to a recovery strategy that leads Portland to a healthier, more resilient future.”
Mayor Wheeler can be reached at email@example.com
Katrina Holland, is the Executive Director of JOIN, an organization which strives to house all Portland Metro area individuals who are homeless or in a transitional housing period. Katrina Holland is active with other organizations assisting individuals with housing needs by serving as the Board Chair of Community Alliance of Tenants, Action Fund, as well as being an active Board member of both HereTogether Oregon and A Home for Everyone. Katrina also serves as the Co-Chair of the City of Portland Rental Services Commission.
Katrina Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is the Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute and an adjunct professor of economics and business at Portland State University. His academic research has been published in top-tier journals such as the Journal of Law & Economics. His comprehensive research on the Oregon Health Plan was one of the top downloads on the Social Science Research Network. He has consulted with state and local governments on tax and budget policy and has consulted with Sen. Rick Scott on healthcare and health insurance reform.
Eric Fruits can be reached at email@example.com
Andrew Hoan is the president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance. Prior to joining the Alliance, Andrew was president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Before his tenure at the Brooklyn Chamber, he served in the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President where he directed capital spending and economic development policy. Andrew moved to New York through participation in a national service year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, helping indigent New Yorkers seek free civil legal help and went on to develop corporate programming for the largest provider of homeless services in New York City, Volunteers of America. Andrew was an appointee to several agencies and authorities throughout his career, and currently serves on Mayor Ted Wheeler’s Council of Economic Advisors, Metro Council President Lynn Peterson’s President’s Council, All Hands Raised board of directors, Oregon Business & Industry board of directors, among others.
Andrew Hoan can be reached at: Ahoan@portlandalliance.com
Marcia Hille is a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years of clinical, management and administrative experience in the non-profit, for-profit and public sectors of healthcare. She has provided leadership in a variety of behavioral health settings including inpatient, residential, outpatient and community based services. She previously worked as a Regional Child Welfare Administrator for the State of Oregon, the Senior Vice-President of Child and Family Services for the Albertina Kerr Centers and as the Manager of Behavioral Services for the FamilyCare Coordinated Care Organization. Marcia is currently the Executive Director for Sequoia Mental Health Services in Washington County.
Marcia Hille can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recap from Ben Botkin at The Lund Report
Portland-Area Needs Tax Proposal For Homeless Services, Panelists Say
Portland-area homeless people need more than just the keys to an apartment to stay off the streets. They also need support services such as mental health care, addiction treatment and job training.
Five experts, including Portland’s mayor, talked about a regional income tax proposal that would generate an estimated $250 million annually for Portland-area homelessness services in a virtual webinar sponsored by the Oregon Health Forum, an affiliate of The Lund Report. The forum, the organization’s third live-streamed event, drew 134 participants.
Portland-area voters will decide May 19 whether the income tax is the right response to persistent homeless problems in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Measure 26-10 would impose a 1% tax on income over $125,000 for individual filers and $200,000 for joint filers in the Metro Service District. Businesses in the district would pay a 1% tax on their profits if they have annual gross receipts of more than $5 million. The tax would sunset after 10 years unless voters extend it.
“We’re seeing so many people sleeping on our streets and that’s continuing to expand,” said Katrina Holland, executive director of JOIN, a Portland organization that helps homeless people.
Holland said the region is “facing the perfect storm” with workers furloughed and laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her organization has seen an increase in calls for help with rent. She said an estimated 56,000 people risk losing their housing.
Thousands more are on the street or in shelters. Multnomah County counted 4,015 people on the streets or in shelters and other transitional housing in 2019.
“This is the most significant humanitarian crisis not only facing our community and region, but frankly the entire West Coast,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said.
The proposal could help thousands of people, provided the money is well spent, panelists said. An estimated 5,000 homeless people with disabilities would receive housing help from the tax. Another 10,000 families would get housing assistance, according to the proposal’s projections.
The revenue also would cover services like addiction counseling, mental health care, job training and case management. Those additional services are crucial for success, Wheeler said.
“Even if we provided them the keys to an apartment today, they would not be successful today,” he said, stressing the need for homeless people to receive additional help.
Not everyone endorses the proposal.
Eric Fruits, research director at the Cascade Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, said the tax would hurt small businesses that are struggling to pay rent and mortgages during the steep economic downturn. He said the proposed oversight with a 20-person committee is inadequate.
He called it a “half-baked idea.”
“I urge you to please exercise some healthy skepticism before you cast your vote on this issue,” Fruits said.
However, Andrew Hoan, president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance, said the business leaders had a hand in the proposal. He said the community needs a regional solution.
“We cannot continue to do business as usual,” he said. “We need to increase the scale. We need to increase the capacity of our providers.”
Marcia Hille, executive director of Sequoia Mental Health Services in Beaverton, said supports are needed for people who suffer chronic homelessness. One of their clients, a 32-year-old man, is now a year into his program.
He needed help with life skills like cooking and managing money after a childhood in and out of foster care and suffering addiction problems.
“Please extend your heart and your vote to assist our most vulnerable individuals,” Hille said.
House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, moderated the forum. She said the Legislature has worked on homelessness and affordable housing issues in recent years and wants the state’s stock of affordable housing to increase. In the 2020 short session, legislation that would have put $120 million toward housing programs died during the Republican-led walkout. The walkout was in response to Gov. Kate Brown’s carbon tax bill and prevented lawmakers from meeting and passing bills.