By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer
The Portland Housing Bureau plans to solicit proposals from social-service agencies on Aug. 26 on how to spend a special appropriation of $1 million for homeless and housing services.
The money is earmarked for outreach and engagement services; placing homeless individuals directly into permanent housing from the streets, shelters, and transitional housing; providing rental assistance and eviction prevention funds to prevent people from becoming homeless, and programs designed to increase homeless or formerly homeless individual’s income.
Acording to City Commissioner Nick Fish, the goal is to permanently house 200 individuals or families, increase the incomes of 47 people, and open 105 beds in shelters and transitional housing for people currently living outside to move into them.
The priorities for the money were determined a group of stakeholders, including social-service providers, activists, law enforcement and business leaders convened by Fish’s office. It is a divergent group. The Portland Business Alliance, for example, has long advocated for the increase of shelter capacity in Portland, which is at loggerheads with Portland’s emphasis on spending resources on ways to place homeless people directly into housing.
“Not everyone knew as much about housing (and homelessness),” Fish says, as the people involved in those spheres. But he says the meetings created consensus on what are the most effective and efficient strategies to ending homelessness, such as rental assistance and freeing up bottlenecks in shelters, rather than investing in more shelters and other short-term solutions.
“If I’ve got law enforcement, the business community, activists, neighborhood partners and social service providers all on the same page, that’s a big win,” Fish says.
As it stands, the $1 million is a one-time infusion, and won’t necessarily be available next year. Fish hopes to leverage “more resources and bolder programs” as a result of recent discussions and increased involvement among business leaders and other stakeholders.