Multnomah Co and Portland City Leaders Meet for Work Session on Homelessness

PORTLAND, Ore. — Leaders and experts from Multnomah County and the city of Portland are holding a special joint work session targeting what they say is the region’s toughest challenge, homelessness.  They’re working on a new plan.

As Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Peterson describes it,  “We see and feel this every single day on our streets. I have seen the same thing you have. A dramatic increase in human beings who don’t have a safe and stable place to call home. It impacts thousands of people in every single neighborhood. I’ve seen examples of it in my own neighborhood of Hazelwood.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also says it’s urgent.  “The homeless crisis is the number one issue facing Portland and Portlanders. We hear it every single day through constituent emails, public meetings, conversations with business owners.”

Mindy Statlander is the CEO of HealthShare of Oregon, which serves hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. “Housing is healthcare. Treatment for addiction and mental health conditions is healthcare. When we braid all of those supports together, we can make meaningful, long term improvements, not only in people’s lives, but in the overall health and vitality of our communities.”

Combining health care with housing is key to making this plan work, according to OHSU PSU School of Public Health professor Bruce Goldberg. “There’s opportunities to maximize Medicaid funding for supportive housing services.  Investing in street medicine programs can alleviate the burden on emergency rooms and hospitals by addressing health care issues before they escalate, thereby reducing health care costs and making for a more effective and efficient health care system for all of us.”

From 9 AM until noon Tuesday,  the group is working on a homelessness response action plan, asking for public input. They want to release the final plan by April.


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