This month, Welcome Home Coalition, with over 90 signatories called upon the Metro regional government to take action to identify new funding for affordable housing development since our current public investments are running out. Without new local public revenue, affordable housing construction in our region will lose pace with rising housing costs. Our coalition is working to ensure local leaders continue to champion public investments to make our region an affordable place to call home. Thank you to those who joined us in this work by signing on to our letter.

Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington County have already seen measurable success thanks to local affordable housing bonds passed by voters in 2016 and 2018. Together, the three counties are on track to construct new affordable housing for up to 19,000 individuals and have resulted in 1,300 more apartments and homes than initially promised to voters. These bonds are paid back with regional property tax revenue – costing the average homeowner just $10 a month.

Read Our Letter

In related news, Metro announced projections for the amount of revenue the Supportive Housing Services measure will bring in for homelessness response services. The new budget projections estimate $1 billion more revenue over the next six years than previously estimated. This is an exciting opportunity to make bold investments in proven solutions to homelessness.

We have the chance to invest these dollars in the ultimate path out of homelessness – sustainable permanent housing solutions. Voters passed the SHS measure knowing the scale of our homelessness crisis required meaningful investments, funded by those who can afford to pay.

We recognize that implementation of these services has not been as quick or impactful as we want them to be and we support leaders convening stakeholders to create a thoughtful well-informed strategic plan to address our homeless crisis.  However, we have enough research and community feedback to know that more affordable housing options continue to be a top need. To be most effective in reducing homelessness, the system needs homeless services, rent subsidies, and permanently affordable housing for people with very low incomes.

Specifically, we know Permanent Support Housing (PSH) and housing rental subsidies for households living on extremely low incomes are crucial to creating exits out of chronic homelessness. In Multnomah County, of the 850 individuals who transitioned into Permanent Supportive Housing in 2022, 99% did not return to the homeless services system in 2023. Funding more permanent supportive housing, long-term rental assistance and eviction prevention means we’ll be making smart use of these additional dollars while we continue to ramp up critical services like mental health care and recovery treatment.

At the end of the day, this is about making sure everyone has a safe, stable home that they can actually afford. We need to cut through politics and start planning now for how we can best use these resources to live up to our values by providing the services and housing needed to ensure a vibrant region for everyone.