Legislative Report - Week of 1/30
By Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona
Last week Governor Kotek underscored the urgency of addressing Oregon’s housing emergency by sharing details of her request to the Legislature for $130 million for the purpose of sheltering homeless families and individuals. There are approximately 18,000 homeless Oregonians, with about 11,000 of those unsheltered. This is no longer just an urban problem; communities throughout the state are struggling to meet the need.
Governor’s initial spending package includes: $33.6 million to prevent 8,750 households from becoming homeless by providing rent assistance and eviction prevention services; $23.8 million for 600 low-barrier shelter beds and housing navigators available to assist people in need of shelter and services; $54.4 million to rehouse at least 1,200 unsheltered households through prepaid rental assistance, block leasing 600 vacant homes; and other re-housing services; $5 million to support emergency response for Oregon tribes, $5 million to build capacity in culturally specific agencies serving homeless households; $2 million for sanitation services; $1.8 million for emergency response coordinated by Oregon Housing and Community Services and Office of Emergency Management.
Housing Production and Accountability Office (HPAO): The Governor’s budget also creates the HPAO, within the Department of Land Conservation and Development, jointly managed with the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). The office will provide technical assistance and support to local governments and housing developers working to reduce land use and permitting barriers to housing production. HPAO will also hold local jurisdictions accountable to state housing and land use laws to clear the path to increased housing production in cities and counties across the state. The office is funded with revenues from the DCBS Building Codes Division.
Manufactured housing (HB 2983): Manufactured housing fills a critical need for low-income and affordable housing. LWVOR submitted a letter.
In support of a bill that will provide funding for 1) ongoing park preservation; 2) new park development and construction financing for non-profits, co-ops, and housing authorities; and 3) development by Department of Land Conservation and Development of model manufactured home park codes and cottage cluster efficiency measures.
Oregon Households Struggling with Housing Costs: A recent post from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis explains that renter households are much more likely than homeowners to struggle to pay for their basic needs, including housing. Of Oregon renters finding it difficult to pay for housing, 21% (124,000) live below the federal poverty level, 44% (262,000) spend more than 30% of their income on housing, 54% (316,000) do not have enough residual income to pay for other necessities, and 63% (369,000) have incomes below MIT’s Living Wage Calculator. There are overlaps in the numbers, but this provides a clearer picture of the degree to which hundreds of thousands of Oregonians struggle to pay their housing costs.
By Marge Easley
The League submitted testimony in support of SB 529, heard in Senate Judiciary on January 31. The bill modifies alternative incarceration programs to specifically address the chronic disease of addiction. A very high percentage of individuals are incarcerated because of addiction issues but are not eligible for treatment programs until just before release. More timely treatment is needed to end the cycle of addiction, particularly in light of the fact that the smuggling of drugs and alcohol into prisons is an ongoing problem in our correctional institutions.
The League will be keeping an eye on HB 2320, which was heard in House Judiciary on January 31. It establishes a 17-member Juvenile Justice Advisory Commission within the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. Members would be appointed by the Chief Justice, the Governor, and the Senate President and would conduct policy analysis and make recommendations to the Legislature related to the juvenile justice system. The bill is a work in progress, and hopefully more details will be forthcoming about the Commission’s exact function and administration funding needs.
We will also be monitoring the progress of two bills related to domestic violence, both heard in House Judiciary on February 2. HB 2933 allocates $10 million from the General Fund to Oregon Domestic and Sexual Assault Services (ODSVS) to meet the growing need for community-based programs that provide confidential, trauma-informed safety and support services. 5,245 survivors received emergency shelter between July 2021 and June 2022, but there were 6,610 unmet requests for shelter during the same period. HB 3018 provides $6 million to provide permanent, affordable housing to end housing instability for survivors.