Portland, Multnomah County release finalized Homelessness action plan



(The Center Square) – Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler released their final version of the City and County’s Homelessness Response Action Plan this week.

The updated version of the plan took over two months to craft and included feedback from hundreds of community members, according to a press release from Wheeler’s office. The revised version still includes many provisions from the initial draft released on March 11.

The Homelessness Response Action Plan aims to offer people more safe options to get off the streets while addressing homelessness, behavioral health, substance abuse and community health.

The plan is a major part of a proposed intergovernmental agreement between the City and County in addressing homelessness.

The full Board of County Commissioners and Portland City Council will meet next month to vote on the new agreement, including this plan.

“Already, the initial phases of this plan are dovetailing with the County and City’s accelerated work to address these crises, including the opening of additional permanent supportive housing and expanded daytime services, and making progress toward significantly expanding shelter and opening a 24-hour drop-off sobering center,” the release said.

The City and County think these expenditures will help move their communities in a positive direction regarding the homelessness problem.

“I am encouraged by this plan’s commitment to address Portland’s homeless crisis with measurable outcomes, meaningful data, a strong focus on behavioral health, and clear accountability on who leads each action,” Mayor Wheeler said in the release. “This unified approach will help us better serve our community, particularly our most vulnerable populations.”

The plans’ core goals include providing shelter or housing to an additional 2,699 people by the end of 2025; increasing the shelter system capacity by about 40% by adding 1,000 shelter units; cutting homelessness for non-whites and “LGBTQIA2S+ people,” the release said; adding hundreds of new behavioral health beds; creating a drop-off sobering center; and developing more affordable housing.

The plan incorporates feedback from nearly 200 emails and almost 300 people who engaged in public forums and presentations.

The plan also offers updates and timelines for work involving partners, including the Oregon Legislature.

The plan solicited feedback through many avenues. These included, “a joint session with the Board of County Commissioners and Portland City Council on March 12, multiple town hall meetings, and multiple direct meetings with service providers, business and health system partners,” the release said.

Over the next several months, the community should expect the City and County to meet these milestones in its plan, the release said:

Opening 276 new shelter beds by the end of 2024.Expanding intensive case management services for people who are both experiencing homelessness and living with significant behavioral health conditions.Helping more people get housed and connected to healthcare as they exit carceral settings by linking housing navigators and healthcare providers to the Department of Community Justice’s Transition Services Unit.Identifying 20 commercial buildings in the downtown core that could potentially be converted into housing.

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