Kotek announces details of $26 million to 26 rural counties to fight homelessness
Makeshift shelters line a block in downtown Salem on May 31, 2023. (Ben Botkin/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
Another slice of the more than $200 million allocated by the Legislature this session for homelessness is headed toward rural counties in Oregon.
Gov. Tina Kotek announced Tuesday that 26 rural counties will receive a total of $26 million to get people off the street, out of their cars and away from other precarious situations by housing them either temporarily in shelters or permanently in homes.
The money was designated by the Legislature in House Bill 5019, which passed early in the session as part of $200 million allocated to fight homelessness. It is expected to pay for 100 new shelter beds and get 450 households into stable living situations by June 2025.
The 26 counties – Baker, Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Wheeler and Yamhill – were excluded from Kotek’s emergency homelessness declaration in January. That order targeted the counties with the biggest increases in homelessness and led to Kotek allocating nearly $80 million to large urban counties in April, including central Oregon and the Portland, Eugene, Medford, Salem and Ashland areas.
“Homelessness is a crisis in both urban and rural communities throughout Oregon,” Kotek said in a release Tuesday. “This funding, tied to specific outcomes, will make a measurable impact in addressing this crisis in rural Oregon. And we can’t stop here – I will keep pushing for concrete solutions that will support community needs going forward.”
The counties applied for the money by submitting plans showing what they would do with the funds. They also had to declare a homeless state of emergency to receive money, something that Jefferson County did not do, according to Jeff Rasmussen, the county administrative officer. Jefferson County was not among the 26 counties in Tuesday’s release, but it did receive money from the April allocation to central Oregon, Rasmussen and a housing agency spokeswoman said.
For this round, the governor’s office received requests from the rural counties for $37 million – more than the state has to spend. The pot of $26 million was divvied up based on the applications and a formula developed by the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department.
Here’s what the other 26 rural counties are getting:
- Baker, Grant, Union and Wallowa counties: $1.2 million to rehouse at least 33 households
- Benton County: $2.4 million to add at least 50 shelter beds and rehouse at least 31 households
- Clatsop County: $3.8 million to add at least 80 shelter beds and rehouse at least 33 households
- Columbia County: $867,453 to rehouse at least 20 households
- Coos County: $1.9 million to add at least eight shelter beds and rehouse at least 32 households
- Curry County: $594,000 to rehouse at least 14 households
- Douglas County: $1.4 million to rehouse at least 34 households
- Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla and Wheeler counties: $2.1 million to add at least 25 shelter beds and rehouse at least 40 households
- Harney and Malheur counties: $1.3 million to rehouse at least 34 households
- Hood River, Sherman and Wasco and counties: $1.9 million to add at least 34 shelter beds and rehouse at least 29 households
- Josephine County: $2 million to add at least 16 shelter beds and rehouse at least 31 households
- Klamath and Lake counties: $1.4 million to rehouse at least 38 households
- Lincoln County: $856,178 to add at least 70 shelter beds and rehouse at least 16 households
- Linn County: $1.9 million to add at least 30 shelter beds and rehouse at least 32 households
- Tillamook County: $769,404 to add at least 20 shelter beds and rehouse at least 12 households
- Yamhill County: $1.3 million to add at least 14 shelter beds and rehouse at least 21 households
The housing agency and Office of Emergency Management will handle implementation details, and the Department of Administrative Services, which oversees contracts, will manage the money. Kotek expects to closely follow progress around the state on fighting homelessness.
“This is among her top three priorities,” said Elisabeth Shepard, a Kotek spokeswoman.
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