Metro President promises homeless services ballot measure
Metro President Lynn Peterson promised the City Club of Portland on Friday that the elected regional government will soon ask voters to approve a ballot measure to fund additional homeless services.
Peterson said the measure will include a tax on the wealthiest residents in the region to fund rent assistance and social services such as mental health and addiction treatment. She said it will help to significantly reduce homelessness in the region.
This is within our reach," Peterson told the stand-room only crowd at the Eco Trust Building in the Pearl District.
Peterson was short on details, however. She did not say how large the tax would be, although Metro Councilor Sam Chase has said it will likely be a 1% surcharge on incomes above $125,000 a year. Nor did Peterson say how much that would raise every year or how it would be spent, although she talked about forming partnerships with local governments and nonprofit organizations.
In response to a question from the audience, Peterson said the never-used former Multnomah County Wapato Jail could be part of the solution. She said she was happy that a nonprofit organization was working to open it as a residential treatment center with private funding. Developer Jordan Schnitzer has bought the facility and given the Helping Hands service agency the opportunity to use it.
Four public forums are scheduled on the proposed measure next week. They include discussions in all three counties within Metro's jurisdiction on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a public hearing before the Metro Council on Thursday, Feb. 13. The council is tentatively scheduled to refer the measure to the May 19 primary election ballot on Thursda, Feb. 20.
The HereTogether advocacy organization has asked the council to refer a measure raising up to $300 million a year for homeless services to voters. The Oregon Legislature would need to lift the existing 1% cap on Metro's income taxing authority to raise the full amount.
The four scheduled meetings are as follows:
Washington County: Monday, Feb. 10, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Beaverton City Library, 12375 S.W. 5th St, Beaverton. Scheduled participants: Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, Metro Council President Lynn Peterson, Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen and Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle.
Clackamas County: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Willamette View - Terrace Building, 13169 SE River Rd, Milwaukie. Scheduled participants: Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard, Metro Council President Lynn Peterson, and Metro Councilor Christine Lewis.
Multnomah County: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., East Multnomah County Building - Sharon Kelley Room, 600 N.E. 8th St, Gresham. Scheduled participants: Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, Metro Council President Lynn Peterson, Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick, and Wood Village Mayor Scott Harden.
Metro Council: Thursday, Feb. 13, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Metro Headquarters, 600 N.E. Grand Ave, Portland
You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue here.
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