Oregon is healthier and safer when everyone has somewhere to live in security, peace, and dignity. During her time at Oregon Food Bank, Tina learned firsthand that the people who were most likely to achieve economic stability were the individuals and families who had housing they could afford. We simply all do better when we have a safe place to call home.
Yet, we all know that safe, affordable housing is out of reach for too many Oregonians. We see it every day in our communities. This is a humanitarian crisis in our neighborhoods. As Governor, Tina is prepared to bring urgency, focus, and energy to solving this challenge.
How did Oregon get here? Our housing and homelessness crisis is a complex problem, but there are three main reasons for what we’re seeing today:
Supply and Affordability: These two things go hand in hand. There is simply not enough housing available in Oregon to meet the need, which results in higher rents and higher home prices. Oregon almost stopped building in the Great Recession, and Oregon has a shortage of at least 111,000 homes right now, with the greatest shortage being homes that are affordable to lower-income families. We need to build 36,200 new homes each year for the next 10 years to meet the need for people experiencing homelessness, to resolve our current shortage of housing, and to meet future demand because of population growth.
A Fragmented and Under-Resourced Homelessness Services System: Homelessness was already a crisis in Oregon before COVID-19, and the pandemic simply made the situation worse, as more families than ever struggled to afford their rent and existing emergency shelters could not accommodate as many people because of public health concerns. In August 2019, the Oregon Statewide Shelter Study concluded that “Homelessness, especially unsheltered homelessness, is of catastrophic proportions in Oregon.” The study included some staggering figures, particularly that Oregon was one of four states in which more than half of all people experiencing homelessness were in unsheltered locations. While there were efforts at the local level to try to meet the need, the state agency in charge did not have an action plan to coordinate a statewide response – and then the pandemic started.
Underfunding Critical Supports for Vulnerable Oregonians: During the Great Recession, the state experienced a significant drop in income tax revenue, thus state services experienced dramatic and damaging budget cuts. It is only in the last few years that budgets have been restored to better levels and new investments have led to expanded access to services. But service providers and systems of care were very fragile when the pandemic started. For example, mental health and substance abuse treatment for our highest-need neighbors has been slow to catch up, despite recent new funding. And other programs, like short-term financial assistance for people who cannot work due to a chronic illness or disability, have not been restored to improve stability in people’s lives. We must do better, and we are rebuilding from a decade of underfunding.
Despite these challenges, Tina believes things can improve with intensified leadership, coordination, and targeted resources from the state. As Speaker of the House, Tina took all these issues on from a legislative angle – from construction of new affordable housing to the preservation of existing affordable housing to protecting people from losing their housing. She fought for increased funding, more local assistance, and new ways to get things done, like converting motels to transitional shelters through Project Turnkey. She is a nationally recognized leader in advancing new strategies to improve housing stability, and as Governor, will continue to champion concrete solutions to address Oregon’s housing and homelessness crisis at the scale needed to solve it. She believes we need to bring more urgency to the challenge and take immediate action on near-term solutions and long-term strategies.
As Governor, Tina’s will focus on these goals to address our housing and homelessness crisis:
1. End unsheltered homelessness for veterans, families with children, unaccompanied young adults, and people 65 years and older by 2025, and continue to strengthen pathways to permanent housing for all Oregonians experiencing homelessness.
2. Build enough housing to meet the need for people currently experiencing homelessness, address the current shortage of housing, and keep pace with future housing demand by 2033.
3.Advance racial equity by reducing the racial homeownership gap by 20 percent by 2027.
4. Keep people housed who are currently on the brink of homelessness.
5. Encourage intergovernmental and private sector partnerships to have more effective and efficient responses to solving this crisis.
GOAL 1: End unsheltered homelessness for veterans, families with children, unaccompanied young adults, and people 65 years and older by 2025, and continue to strengthen pathways to permanent housing for all Oregonians experiencing homelessness.
Within the first 30 days of entering office, form a special emergency management team to work directly with local government and community leaders to address the urgent needs of veterans, families with children, unaccompanied young adults, and people 65 years and older who are living outside.
Create a trained workforce of housing navigators whose sole job it is to find housing and reduce barriers for people struggling to find permanent housing.
Expand access to state owned properties for temporary emergency shelters and navigation centers using best practices from Oregon’s statewide shelter study.
Invest in wrap-around services to assist people living outside be more stable to help them obtain permanent housing.
Clean up trash that accumulates at camps by partnering with local governments and people experiencing homelessness to provide sanitation services to these temporary camps.
GOAL 2: Build enough housing to meet the need for people currently experiencing homelessness, address the current shortage of housing, and keep pace with future housing demand by 2033.
Issue an executive order on Day One to create a 10-year plan to build enough homes in urban, suburban, and rural communities to meet this goal and make this comprehensive plan the top priority in the 2024 legislative session. That plan would include strategies for:
Meeting local housing production targets in an equitable way to create more inclusive communities and addresses historic patterns of segregation by income.
Creating the needed construction workforce.
Encouraging innovation, streamlining permit processes, and supporting housing developers to scale up to build these homes.
GOAL 3: Advance racial equity by reducing the racial homeownership gap by 20 percent by 2027.
Increase down payment assistance, access to secondary loans, and homeownership education through culturally specific organizations to reach Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) households across the state.
Expand opportunities for homeownership by supporting community land trusts and shared equity homeownership programs as anti-displacement strategies.
Promote affordable homeownership by developing diverse affordable housing types like duplexes, triplexes, and quads in high opportunity areas for homeownership.
Crack down on discrimination by partnering with the federal government and community organizations to enforce fair housing laws more effectively in Oregon.
GOAL 4: Keep people housed who are currently on the brink of homelessness.
Create a housing provider council that consists of private landlords, affordable housing providers, and tenant rights advocates to address barriers to keeping tenants housed.
Direct the Public Utility Commission to implement an arrearage strategy for unpaid utility bills.
Use the Secretary of State’s audit of the emergency rent assistance delivery system to make needed improvements.
Give the courts more flexibility and time to mediate eviction cases and connect tenants facing eviction to community-based services to help them stay housed.
GOAL 5: Encourage intergovernmental and private sector partnerships to have more effective and efficient responses to solving this crisis.
Establish a multi-sector, multi-region advisory group to guide Oregon Housing and Community Services’ policies and implementation.
Create an employment housing project through Business Oregon that will partner with the state’s largest employers to create a housing and transportation employment strategy plan.
Tina’s plan to address our housing and homelessness crisis will require all Oregonians to lend a hand.
Oregonians know we need to fix this. Oregonians want to help their neighbors. Oregonians have a “can do” attitude and are willing to roll up their sleeves. This plan will focus everyone’s energy on achieving success for our state and our neighbors. Tina will bring urgency to this issue and will work with everyone to get this done.