Metro homeless tax committee membership under scrutiny
A coalition of nine local addiction recovery agencies want a seat at the table as the tri-county regional government considers how to dole out the cash from a homeless services money measure.
Led by Tony Vezina, executive director of 4D Recovery, the group says Metro's committee for the recently passed regional supportive housing measure "lacks significant representation" from key constituent groups.
"As far as we can tell, the Regional Supportive Housing Services Stakeholder Advisory Table lacks representation from those with lived experience of homelessness, mental illness and substance use recovery," says the three-page letter, dated July 2, and addressed to the Metro Council.
The letter asks the council to postpone the first meeting of the advisory committee, which is slated to meet virtually on Monday, July 6.
Anywhere from 45% to 84% of those without shelter in Oregon suffer from substance abuse and addiction, per the group.
The Metro housing ballot measure was approved by regional voters in May 2020, and will impose a 1% tax on those earning more than $200,000 per year as a family, or $125,000 for individuals. Metro has vowed to essentially eradicate chronic homelessness using the new source of income.
A Metro spokesman said the committee did include persons with such "lived experience," though the provided statement didn't specify who.
"Our stakeholder advisory committee, which begins its work Monday, has representatives with a variety of expertise, from health care to culturally specific outreach to construction of new housing. At least three of the members of the committee represent groups that directly provide recovery services to people experiencing homelessness," the statement said.
There are more than 20 people set to serve on the committee, including: Tabitha Alajmi, Clackamas Service Center; Bridget Dazey, Clackamas Workforce Partnership; Brantley Dettmer, Westside Economic Alliance; Mercedes Elizalde, Central City Concern; Melissa Erlbaum, Clackamas Women's Services; Katherine Galian, Community Action of Washington County; Francisco Garcia, DevNW; Garciela Gomez Cowger, Portland Business Alliance; Ashley Henry, Business for a Better Portland; TomiRene Hettman, Residents Organizing for Change; Katrina Holland, JOIN; Mitch Hornecker, Modoc Consulting; Jenny Lee, APANO; Samm McCrary, Residents Organizing for Change; Tyler McInnis, Welcome Home Coalition; Sahaan McKelvey, Self Enhancement Inc.; Jackie Mercer, Native American Rehabilitation Association of the NW; Dave Nielsen, Homebuilders Association of Metro Portland; Rich Roell, Lifeworks; James Schroeder, HealthShare; Rowie Taylor, Domestic Violence Resource Center; and Bianetth Valdez, HomePlate.
The letter from addiction councilors is co-signed by Miguel Tellez, NW Instituto Latino Adicciones; Julia Mines, The Miracles Club; Monta Knudson, Bridges to Change; Shawn Bower, Iron Tribe Network; Mike Marshall, Oregon Recovers; Jason Renaud, Mental Health & Addiction Association of Oregon; and Van Burnham, Oregon Recovery Residences.
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