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Monday, August 19, 2013

Here's a Detailed Look at Saltzman's Homelessness Funding Plan

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Commissioner Dan Saltzman has put his name on what actually appears to be a $2 million plan to help address homelessness—more than the $1.7 million figure he gave on KGW this weekend—with half of that requested money going to programs meant to help homeless women in particular.

Saltzman's office this afternoon sent the Mercury a copy of the outline he mentioned sending to Mayor Charlie Hales last week. The memo (pdf) was sent August 15, the day after Hales and his team finally invited Saltzman's chief of staff, Brendan Finn, Portland Housing Bureau experts, and former Housing Commissioner Nick Fish to one of Hales' long-planned informational sessions on homelessness.

(Fish, the day before that meeting, first went public on Blogtown with a passionate denunciation of the mayor's handling of homelessness and how little he and others had been consulted.)

The full plan submitted by Saltzman builds off the kernel of an idea he and Hales had been working out before all the political outcry grew too loud to ignore. It includes $300,000 in immediate unspent money for things like increased shelter space for homeless women, and that piece could go before council by September 18. But the rest of the memo was clearly influenced by the discussion in Hales' office last Wednesday.

Advocates and officials at the meeting pushed for more than just shelter relief—and Saltzman and Hales appeared to be listening. (I posted a lengthy examination of Saltzman's evolution on this issue Sunday morning.) He's also asking commissioners to vote, when the city's budget is revised this fall, for $1.7 million more in resources. Some $700,000 would go toward expanding his programs for homeless women. The rest, $1 million, would be spent on helping get kids off the streets and also go toward work with people of color.

The model for that million bucks is a similar one-time effort brokered in 2010 by Fish and former Mayor Sam Adams. As I reported back then, Adams found the money and Fish worked to convene business interests and providers in something of a détente after what were still fresh wounds from the 2009 sit-lie fight.

Those wounds have reopened, to a degree, in recent weeks. Saltzman's office hasn't answered yet where Saltzman might find the money for his plan.

Update 7:50 PM: Israel Bayer, executive director of Street Roots and one of the advocates who attended last Wednesday's meeting, sent me a statement tonight. It reiterates his hope that Multnomah County might match the city's investment. He also seems to be casting the political backlash over Hales' heavy steps toward enforcement as a blessing in disguise.

"We're hoping the county will consider matching the funds to target hard-to-reach youth on the streets and to support more mental health outreach workers in the community.

City Hall and Multnomah County have a real opportunity to turn this into a real opportunity for people experiencing homelessness and mental health in our community. It's a win-win for people on the streets, government, law enforcement, and a concerned business community.

Street Roots believes we can get there..."

Hit the jump for some specifics:

The Options for Homeless Women program will:

Open existing shelter bottlenecks. Currently the two City-funded women’s shelters have 130 & 190 person wait lists. We will expand existing shelter capacity by working with existing providers to shorten shelter stays and to free up existing beds.

Divert more women from shelter. Tools such as additional rent assistance, street outreach, and housing advocacy and placement services, will help move women from shelter into housing or retain their current housing.

The Options for Homeless Women program will serve women in families, couples, youth and individuals.

Requests for Additional One-Time Funds through the Fall BuMP: These investments would boost service providers’ ability to use proven homelessness prevention methods citywide.

Additional $700K for Options for Homeless Women: I would like to expand the program by $700k this fiscal year to reach an additional 250 women. This program can be easily expanded on a quick time frame to reach more homeless women, families, and couples.

$1M for Options for Priority Vulnerable Populations identified through A Home for Everyone: A $1 million infusion into the service continuum allows us to use the same intervention and prevention tools for priority populations identified in the community plan to end homelessness, including: unaccompanied youth, communities of color, and adults with disabilities.

This type of investment would utilize a similar approach as the $1 million special appropriation during FY 2010-11. The funding had an immediate and significant impact on reducing homelessness in the Central City. 311 households were moved from the streets into homes, and of those, 73% were still in housing a year later. The primary methods involved leveraging existing street outreach with rent assistance funds, as well as job and housing placement support services for youth

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