Oregon is in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis.
All three candidates for governor are campaigning on homelessness because it is understandably a top concern for Oregon voters. However, it is crucial to note that all three candidates served together in the legislature in positions of leadership – but only one candidate made housing and homelessness her top priority as a legislator: Tina Kotek.
With a crisis of this magnitude, it’s easy to point fingers and criticize. It’s much more challenging to roll up your sleeves and do something about it. While Christine Drazan and Betsy Johnson were busy voting “no” or walking off the job, Tina was sounding the alarm and doing everything she could to help. And the crisis on our streets would be much worse if the state had done nothing.
An Urgent Plan of Action
Tina has a comprehensive plan to tackle Oregon’s housing and homelessness crisis as Governor.
Three main steps she would take in her first year in office to take on housing and homelessness include:
- Within the first 30 days, she will form a special emergency management team with one mission: end unsheltered homelessness for veterans, families with children, unaccompanied youth, and seniors by 2025.
- She will immediately prioritize expanding managed shelters, improving access to mental health and addiction services, and getting new street outreach teams on the ground to help people.
- On Day One, she will issue an executive order to increase the pace and scale of housing production statewide, with a focus on financing housing that’s affordable for middle class families.
She will have specific goals that are transparent and accountable. For example, “how often does someone living on the streets have consistent and reliable contact with a street outreach team?” Success will be measured by how many Oregonians experiencing homelessness move into permanent housing and how many Oregonians at risk of homelessness remain housed.
Tina also recognizes that mental health and addiction services are a critical part of addressing this crisis. As Governor, she will:
- Make sure that the state is delivering on what voters demanded when they passed Measure 110: expanded recovery services statewide so that as soon as someone struggling with addiction is ready for treatment, they can find the support they need in their community right away. Christine Drazan and Betsy Johnson want to go against the will of the voters, repeal the measure, and keep kicking the can down the road. Lives are on the line, and Oregonians do not want to go backward.
- Ensure the state is effectively spending the $500 million the legislature added to expand mental health and addiction care, and the millions more from voters by Measure 110. She will demand results, including an immediate review of Oregon Health Authority management and the practices of coordinated care organizations.
- Direct a top-to-bottom review of the workforce shortage that is keeping us from serving people. That likely means increased wages, lower caseloads, financial assistance to complete certifications, and emergency streamlining of licensing requirements.
Sounding the Alarm: Tina’s Record on Oregon’s Housing and Homelessness Crisis
For years, Tina has been sounding the alarm. As Speaker of the Oregon House, she made Oregon’s housing and homelessness crisis one of her top priorities. She fought to make investments and policy changes that are providing more stability for Oregonians right now, and she is the only candidate with the vision, values, and track record to make a real difference as Governor.
|Willamette Week: “Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek Supports Rent Control” [Sept. 13, 2016]|
NPR: “Oregon Set To Pass The First Statewide Rent Control Bill” [Feb. 27, 2019]
OPB: “Speaker Tina Kotek: Oregon Should Declare A Homelessness State Of Emergency” [Jan. 10, 2020]
The Oregonian: “Tina Kotek proposes $40 million investment in homelessness – a first for Oregon” [Jan. 21, 2020]
Corvallis Gazette-Times: “Oregon lawmakers OK more than $700 million for housing needs” [July 6, 2021]
Tina successfully pushed for policy changes and nearly $300 million between 2019-2021 to expand emergency shelters and homelessness services, including:
- $47 million to increase emergency shelter capacity and navigation centers, including:
- $26.5 million for low-barrier emergency shelters in Eugene, Salem, Bend, Medford, McMinnville, Portland, Roseburg, and The Dalles
- $10.5 million for shelters in the City of Salem
- $9.7 million for additional motel-to-shelter Project Turnkey sites
- $25 million to assist communities with shelter operations and provide technical assistance
- $20 million for the Behavioral Health Housing Incentive Fund
- $12 million for permanent supportive housing rental assistance and service supports
- $10 million to Multnomah County for the construction of a behavioral health resource center in downtown Portland
- $3.6 million for providers serving unaccompanied unhoused youth (HB 2544)
- $1.2 million to improve the statewide data system on homelessness and service outcomes
- Expediting emergency shelter siting by temporarily giving local governments more flexibility in siting emergency shelters to assist unhoused Oregonians (HB 2006)
- Modernizing the statewide housing and homeless assistance system and ensuring access to culturally specific and culturally responsive organizations (HB 2100)
- Protecting unsheltered Oregonians from fines or arrest for sleeping or camping on public property when there are no other options (HB 3115)
- Emergency shelter siting (House Bill 4212): Temporarily waives all siting, design, and zoning regulations for local governments to develop low-barrier shelters and navigation centers to provide support for Oregonians experiencing unsheltered homelessness, who are at high-risk of COVID-19 virus transmission. Siting provisions are limited to 90 days.
- $65 million for Project Turnkey, a program that converts hotels and motels into shelter space. In under seven months, this investment expanded the state’s shelter capacity by 20%.
- $50 million for state homeless assistance programs: $45 million total to Emergency Housing Assistance (EHA) and State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP) and an additional $5 million to strengthen temporary shelter options in high-need areas
- $14.5 million to prevent and end homelessness for very low-income children
- $50 million for developing permanent supportive housing, plus $2.9 million for rental assistance to individuals living in this kind of housing
As Oregonians struggled to keep up with soaring rent increases, Tina led the effort to support and protect renters with policy changes and $518 million investments between 2019-2021, including:
- $5 million for housing assistance for domestic violence/sexual assault survivors
- $4.8 million for fair housing enforcement and education to the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, Oregon Department of Justice, and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries
- $4.5 million to establish a long-term rent assistance fund for young adults under 25 who have been recently homeless or exiting foster care or juvenile corrections
- $3 million to support community organizations that are distributing rent assistance or educating tenants
- $1 million to the Oregon Law Center for legal assistance to renters and residents of manufactured home parks
- Extending the rent repayment grace period for back rent accrued during the pandemic after the eviction moratorium expires on June 30 and preventing landlords from reporting nonpayment accrued during the pandemic to consumer credit bureaus (SB 282)
- Ensuring a 60-day safe harbor from evictions for tenants who have applied for and are waiting on rental assistance after the eviction moratorium expired on June 30 (SB 278)
- Requiring landlords to conduct individualized assessments and consider supplemental evidence from applicants before denying an application for housing because of criminal history (SB 291)
- In the midst of the pandemic, Tina pushed the Emergency Board to approve more than $500 million in rental assistance and other housing supports.
- Pandemic Eviction Moratorium & Rental Assistance: Tina pushed to pass two bills (HB 4213, HB 4401) to protect people who rent their homes from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide rental assistance.
- Protected renters across the state from huge rent spikes and no-cause evictions. (SB 608, 2019)
Tina championed policy changes and $822 million between 2019-2021 to build and preserve more affordable housing:
- $410 million for housing construction through the Local Innovation Fast Track (LIFT) and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programs
- $100 million to preserve existing affordable housing
- $30 million for affordable housing or land acquisition revolving loan funds
- $10 million for gap financing for affordable rental housing projects that are co-located with child care or early learning centers
- $5 million for gap financing to affordable housing projects already approved that have experienced unexpected increases in construction costs during the pandemic
- $4.5 million for grants and technical assistance to local governments for community planning and development code updates
- $1.3 million to study the incorporation of regional housing needs analysis into state and local planning programs
- $900,000 to study local system development charges and their impact on the cost of market-rate housing development (HB 3040)
- Increasing the limit for the state’s agricultural housing tax credit from $7.25 million to $16.75 million per biennium to increase the construction, rehabilitation, or acquisition of agriculture workforce housing (HB 2433)
- Requiring local governments to allow the development of affordable housing projects on land within an urban growth boundary not zoned for residential use (SB 8)
- Reducing red tape for religious organizations to develop their properties for low-income housing and allowing the continuation of their property tax exemption (HB 2008)
- Establishing conditions under which local governments must allow land divisions for new middle housing development (SB 458)
- Requiring local governments to submit information to an online inventory of surplus public lands (HB 2918)
- Allowing counties to authorize owners of lots in rural residential zones to construct one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) (SB 391)
- $50 million in additional bonding was approved to provide affordable housing for low income Oregonians, as well as citizens in historically underserved communities and communities of color, through the Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Housing Program.
- $150 million for affordable housing development
- $25 million for affordable housing preservation
- $15 million for manufactured home park preservation and supply
- $15 million for affordable market rate housing acquisition loan program
- $5 million for workforce housing development in rural areas
- Increased the availability of affordable housing by passing nationally-recognized legislation to enact zoning reform that eliminated red tape and allowed construction of more housing options like duplexes, triplexes, cottage clusters and townhomes. (HB2001)
- Addressed Oregon’s housing inventory challenges by passing legislation requiring local governments to work together to assess existing housing stock and housing needs and conducting a regional housing needs analysis to better understand the scale of the crisis. (HB 2003)
Tina secured policy changes and $66 million between 2019-2021 to help more Oregonians become homeowners and protect families from foreclosure:
- $20 million for down payment assistance, half to a revolving loan fund to help homebuyers with secondary loans and half to community culturally responsive organizations to increase homeownership opportunities
- $20 million to provide flexible funding for affordable single-family construction and alternative ownership models such as co-ops
- $10 million to create the Healthy Homes Program to provide grants for the repair and rehabilitation of homes of low-income households and communities disproportionately affected by environmental pollution or other hazards (HB 2842)
- $7 million to support manufactured home park residents with park acquisition loans and home decommissioning grants and replacement loans
- $3 million for foreclosure avoidance counseling services to homeowners
- $2 million to provide technical assistance and outreach to culturally specific
organizations to reduce barriers to homeownership
- $2 million to SquareOne for a shared-equity homeownership pilot with tiny homes
- $1 million for a community pilot program that develops accessory dwelling units (ADUs) for income-eligible homeowners (HB 3335)
- Protecting homeowners from foreclosure during the pandemic (HB 2009)
- Addressing racial disparities in homeownership by requiring additional education on implicit and racial bias for mortgage loan providers, authorizing grants and technical assistance to organizations working to increase homeownership for low-income individuals and people of color, and renewing the Joint Task Force on Addressing Racial Disparities in Home Ownership to recommend further solutions (HB 2007 and SB 79)
- Strengthening Oregon’s opportunity to purchase laws for manufactured home park residents (HB 2364)
- Pandemic Foreclosure Protections: Required lenders to defer both residential and commercial mortgage payments if a borrower is unable to pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (HB 4204)
- $1.5 million for homeownership counseling services