June 12, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Governor supports funding for existing shelters

5 min read
Gov. Kotek will seek $65 million to support pre-existing shelters facing closure as one-time federal money goes away. Eugene's Lucy Vinis was among the Oregon mayors lobbying for state support.

Good news for the city of Eugene, as the governor announced support for keeping shelters open. On Jan. 9, she extended the homeless emergency orders.

Gov. Tina Kotek: The 2023 HUD point in time count, though I want to point out was conducted prior to the start of our homelessness state of emergency, estimates that there are 20,000 people in Oregon experiencing homelessness across our state. And this is likely an undercount. Homelessness is still very much an emergency.

Consequently, today, I’m signing Executive Order 24-02, which continues the homelessness state of emergency. Specific outcomes tied to this new order will be outlined in the month ahead, working with our local partners.

[00:00:46] Additionally, in concert with this extension, I’m signing Executive Order 24-03, which encompasses the second phase of our work that directed all state agencies to prioritize preventing and reducing homelessness.

[00:01:00] The new order reestablishes the Interagency Council on Homelessness and tasks them with operationalizing a roadmap for state agencies to expand an outcomes-driven approach to reducing and preventing homelessness statewide.

[00:01:13] Elizabeth: I have a question from Jefferson Public Radio. How many cities reached out to you seeking an extension of the emergency order? Was that a big reason why you decided to extend the order?

[00:01:23] Gov. Tina Kotek: Well, thank you, Jefferson Public Radio…I think there is agreement across the state for all the communities who’ve been stepping up on this emergency order that we have work to do, that we are still in a crisis situation.

[00:01:35] Together, we were able with legislative help to guarantee that we have the resources through the biennium to keep going forward on the resources that we have put in play across the state. We have built an infrastructure to respond in a more coordinated fashion, and we are funding that to keep that.

[00:01:53] I will say that with the extension of the emergency order, we’re going to continue maintaining what we’re doing. But I also want to point out that there are some resources that we continue to need from the legislature. We’ve asked for $65 million to continue to support other shelters who were existing prior to my emergency order last year who could be losing funding because of one-time federal money going away, that are part of our system in the state to provide shelter.

[00:02:21] So we need that $65 million to support those shelters. And about another $35 million to do additional rent assistance.

[00:02:28] So my message is: We’re going to keep going. Communities have said they want that support. They are all in, and we need continued help from the legislature to do the work.

[00:02:37] John Q: She said an essential part of solving the homelessness crisis is adding more housing.

[00:02:43] Gov. Tina Kotek: I will be introducing a bill, when bills come out, that will have $500 million attached to the bill. It will continue to have the Housing and Accountability Production Office funded, which by the way, one of the reasons we need resources there is we want to set up ready-made templates for people to do construction.

[00:03:00] That takes time. We want to help local communities do their permitting faster. That proposal includes money for infrastructure. We heard last year that one of the reasons that production is not happening is that there are infrastructure barriers. There’s going to be money to incentivize for infrastructure.

[00:03:14] There will be some conversation about land supply, it is one piece of it, and what I can say about the land supply conversation is, we’ve continued to improve the proposal, and if passed the way it currently sits, would be the strongest proposal to guarantee affordability and new construction in the country.

[00:03:33] So we are very excited about the bill, we’re looking forward to everyone getting, behind it, we’ve been having great conversations with legislators. It’s up to the legislature to fund it. I believe the $500 million in one-time funding is an essential catalytic investment to get us on the path to new production. And I hope the legislature can be a partner in that.

[00:03:55] John Q: The governor said she would take lessons learned from her first year in office, which prompted a great question from the press:

[00:04:01] Reporter: I’m curious if there’s been anything that you’ve learned this year—you know, you’ve been in state government for a long time—that has prompted you to pivot your path or rethink your strategy to anything.

[00:04:12] Gov. Tina Kotek: The assumptions I came into office on: that if you provide clear goals and plans, it helps people do their job better and you can achieve the outcomes you want.

[00:04:23] I think we’re seeing that with the emergency order. Look, it’s been tough in spots, right? You’re asking folks who are already tired, doing the work to say, work together better, try to hit goals. People have hit their stride. They are getting there, right? So I think, again, when you set goals and have plans for folks, people step up. They want that leadership.

[00:04:43] I think the one thing that has been enlightening since taking over this job is how we pace it, how we make sure people can move at the pace you want us at. The elements of state government are not as flexible as we always want them to be. Contracting and hiring and all the things that you want to have done well with accountability, sometimes don’t move as quickly as you need to move, right?

[00:05:07] So for me, it’s adjusting to make sure that we can continue to make progress without breaking ourselves along the way, right? Here’s what I know. People want things to be different and when people say, ‘Hey, we need to slow down,’ I try to slow down. But then, like, ‘Okay, if we have to add a month or two, let’s do that, but let’s keep moving forward, because we have to continue to solve problems for people.’

[00:05:29] John Q: Eugene was denied funding during the last session. But the governor is now supporting $65 million so shelters can stay open. The session starts on Feb. 5.

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