When it comes to solving the homeless crisis people have a deep distrust of local government, a new survey by People for Portland finds.
The non-profit advocacy organization that aims to pressure Portland leaders to take action commissioned a survey of people in mid-December of residents in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. Those three counties are where wealthier people and larger businesses within the Metro boundary are paying $2.5 billion to fix the homelessness epidemic.
People for Portland co-founder Dan Lavey said there were three big takeaways from this survey:
• "One, voters continue to be very frustrated and very unhappy with the direction of government leaders as it relates to their performance on homelessness."
• "Second thing is voters appear to be willing to take matters into their own hands in supporting modifications to the new regional homeless services measure to put more specificity and goals around that measure."
"Then the third, voters are very supportive of some specific ideas that local government leaders have been blocking," such as using existing facilities as shelters.
This survey asks voters how the City of Portland and Multnomah County have spent $280 million over the past five years on the homeless. Of the respondents, 75% said they've been ineffective.
Looking to the future and how the $250 million-a-year for 10 years will be spent, 50% of the respondents said local government is on the wrong track — even though only a small fraction of that new money has yet to be spent on projects in the pipeline.
"We declared a housing emergency over sixyears ago in this region and in the city and people's eyes don't lie," said Lavey. "They know that the problem is getting worse."
The survey asks if people support possible changes to the Metro homeless measure on a future ballot which would reprioritize how the tax money is spent away from permanent housing.
A full 74% of respondents said at least half of the money should be spent quickly on shelters.
The survey shows strong support for turning public properties, such as the former Old Town post officer, the Expo Center and — to a lesser degree — downtown parking garages into temporary shelters.
"What's being done now clearly isn't working," Lavey said. "The status quo is failing everybody."
Before the People for Portland survey was released Monday, Mayor Ted Wheeler appeared on KOIN 6 News in a one-on-one interview with Ken Boddie for Eye on NW Politics.
"I absolutely understand and empathize with people's frustration and their anger, and I understand why they're concerned about the future of this city," Wheeler said. "But by the same token I also want to make it clear that this City Council is unified around our top priorities — homelessness, public safety, economic recovery and livability, picking up the litter, abating graffiti and issues like that."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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