Portland’s long-standing safety net provides a basic level of security that we all deserve. In particular, when people have a safe, stable, affordable place to live they’re better able to invest in themselves, their children and a better city for us all.
City Council’s support of the safety net is a powerful stand for Portland values. The safety net consists of critical investments.
There are several vital programs at risk in this year’s budget cycle:
- Critical up-to-date referral services for Portland residents in need: This includes 100,000 copies of Street Roots Rose City Resource guides distributed to more than 200 organizations and institutions along with services from 211Info, which fielded 240,000 calls from people in need last year.
- Short-term rent assistance (STRA) for people experiencing homelessness in our community: Stabilizes more than 1,300 households annually in permanent housing, freeing up hundreds of spaces in shelter and assisting hundreds more to avoid the enormous personal and community impacts of living on the streets.
- Emergency Shelter: Provides year-round day space and shelter at the Bud Clark Commons, which last year served over 4,300 people, and offer hundreds of additional shelter beds for men and women during the winter months and during life threatening episodes of severe weather.
- Homeownership and Foreclosure Prevention: Assists hundreds of households, especially in communities of color, to achieve homeownership and avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. Our community’s foreclosure prevention programs have helped 757 households of color protect over $132 million dollars in assets.
Beyond the numbers, what we are talking about are people’s lives. After years of recession and declining revenues, we’re no longer cutting the fat off of an institution. Instead, we’re starting to cut into the meat of an already fragile system.
We’re not just talking about a growing homeless population. We’re talking about Portland families at the end of their ropes — families trying any way possible to avoid the streets.
When a family doesn’t have access to housing, their capacity for an education, good health and emotional stability are equally jeopardized. It’s all connected. In order maintain a healthy city, together we have to invest in people. When we invest in people, we invest in hope and when we invest in hope, then anything is possible.
We recognize that difficult budget decisions need to be made, but we ask that City Hall find a way to protect the safety net. It’s in all of our best interests.