Supportive Housing Services Tax

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Metro Oregon, the implementing agency
Here Together, coalition backing measure

A measure on the May 19, 2020 ballot for Oregon Metro, the regional government body of the Portland,_Oregon area, to raise approximately $250M/year for "supportive housing services" aimed at addressing and preventing homelessness.

On February 25, 2020, the Metro Council unanimously approved ORDINANCE NO. 20-1442, to refer a Supportive Housing Services Ballot Measure to voters on the May 19 ballot. 


Backing coalition's hashtags: #HereTogether, #ServicesAreSolutions. 
To view Twitter posts using these tags:  Twitter combined search for hashtags #HereTogether, #ServicesAreSolutions, #SHSBM.
 

February 28, 2020 discussion on OPB News Roundtable[edit]

Oregon Public Broadcasting. "OPB News Roundtable" February 28, 2020. Host Dave Miller, with Camilla Mortensen, Eric Fruits, and Marisa Zapata. Discussing Metro Supportive Housing Services measure starting at 12:35. https://www.opb.org/radio/programs/thinkoutloud/segment/news-roundtable-coronavirus-business-impacts-non-alcoholic-bar/.

 

February 13, 2020 Metro hearing [edit]

"Portland: First and only public hearing on Metro homeless measure." Jennifer Dowling/KOIN 6 News, Portland Tribune, 15 February, 2020. [Thomas 2020]:

"Community members got a chance on Thursday, Feb. 13, to weigh in on a new tax that aims to help homeless people in the greater Portland area.

The Metro Council plans to work on the language of the measure on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The elected regional government could decide whether to put the measure on the May primary ballot as early as Thursday, Feb. 20.

Metro is a regional government, serving the three-county Portland area, and covers such issues as the Oregon Zoo, solid waste disposal and the urban growth boundary. Homelessness services has not been part of the Metro charter.

Lynn Peterson, Metro president

  [PMG FILE PHOTO, right - Metro Council President Lynn Peterson is the driving force behind a fast-tracked bill, likely heading to voters in May, creating an income tax to pay for homeless services.]

The Metro council is looking at raising taxes on wealthier people who live in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.

Nick Christensen, a senior public affairs specialist for Metro, said staff is discussing a 1% tax on individuals who make more than $125,000 per year, or couples who make at least $250,000 per year. The money would help fund things like mental health services, health care and additional treatment services. It would not be for building more affordable housing.

Metro voters approved an affordable housing bond at the November 2018 general election.

Local reactions

A large number of people and service organizations testified in favor of the tax on Thursday, including Katrina Holland who is a board member of the HereTogether advocacy organization that has proposed the measure.

"It's long overdue," she said. "We had a housing crisis for many years."

Others said supportive housing provides a critical foundation for wellness. Jennifer Langston said she has experienced homelessness in the past and is in favor of the tax.

But many people expressed concerns with the measure, saying more work is needed. One person testified that shelters are not the answer. Others questioned whether the money would be spent correctly.

"Our money isn't being spent the way it should be now, so what assurances do we have that this will be any different?" Gary Marschke asked.

Dan Newth is a vendor for Street Roots, a newspaper that provides income and visibility for homeless people. He said has experienced homelessness firsthand. He told Metro officials, "Policies are beneficial for staff and negative for those trying to get into housing."

Another man complained that the tax is not equitable, saying, "My work is being devalued to make a better life for me and my family and coworkers. I feel like I'm an ATM. I'm not a billionaire — I'm blue-collar."

Cascade Policy Institute President John Charles Jr. said Metro doesn't have many answers so far and the process has been rushed.

"How are they proposing to get the money?" he asked. "How much money? Where is it going to go? What are the metrics for measuring success? They don't, by their own admission, know any of that."

KOIN 6, a news partner of Pamplin Media Group, took some of these questions to Metro President Lynn Peterson and HereTogether. Peterson said Metro will set up an oversight committee to provide greater accountability.

"The reality is, this is something that we've been talking about for years," Katrina Holland said. "Quite frankly, after the housing bond passed (in 2019), immediately advocates in the community were thinking we need to pair these dollars with services dollars and we tried multiple things but it didn't go well."

Holland said she is optimistic the current measure will end up on the ballot."

— Jennifer Dowling/KOIN 6 News
 

Summary - descriptions from Metro Ordinance [edit]

this section presents a summary descriptions of services to be provided, priorities, local plans, and oversight, extracted from Exhibit A to Ordinance No. 20-1442: Supportive Housing Services Overview:

"SECTION 4. Services and Priorities
Supportive Housing Services Revenue will fund Supportive Housing Services, including:

  • street outreach services;
  • transition and placement services;
  • in-reach, basic survival support, and mental health services;
  • interventions and addiction services (crisis and recovery);
  • physical health services;
  • interventions for people with physical impairments and disabilities;
  • short and long-term rent assistance;
  • eviction prevention;
  • inancial literacy, employment, job training and retention education;
  • peer support services;
  • workplace supports;
  • benefits, navigation and attainment (veteran benefits, SSI, SSDI, other benefits);
  • landlord tenant education and legal services;
  • fair housing advocacy;
  • shelter services;
  • bridge/transitional housing placement;
  • discharge interventions;
  • permanent supportive housing services;
  • affordable housing and rental assistance and other supportive services.

Supportive Housing Services Revenue and Supportive Housing Services will first address the unmet needs of people who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing long-term or frequent episodes of homelessness. Supportive Housing Services Revenue and Supportive Housing Services will be prioritized in a manner that provides equitable access to people of color and other historically marginalized communities."
 

SECTION 6. Local Implementation Plans. [...]
5. Local implementation plans must include the following: [...] 
c. A review of current system investments or capacity serving priority populations, an analysis of the nature and extent of gaps in services to meet the needs of the priority population, broken down by service type, household types, and demographic groups. d. A description of the planned investments that includes: (1) the types of services, and how they remedy the service gap analysis; (2) the scale of the investments proposed; (3) the outcomes anticipated; and (4) the service delivery models that will be used in each area of service." [...]

i. A commitment that funding will be allocated as follows: (a) 75 percent for people who have extremely low incomes and one or more disabling conditions, who are experiencing long-term or frequent episodes of literal homelessness or are at imminent risk of experiencing homelessness; and (b) 25 percent for people who are experiencing homelessness or face/have substantial risk of homelessness.

SECTION 16. Accountability of Funds; Audits 1. Each county or local government receiving funds must make an annual report to the Metro Council and the oversight committee on how funds from the taxes have been spent and how those expenditures have affected established homelessness metrics.
 

Oversight structures[edit]

From "Exhibit A to Ordinance No. 20-1442: Supportive Housing Services Overview":

SECTION 5. Oversight Committee[edit]

1. Committee Established
A 20-member regional oversight committee (hereafter, “Supportive Housing Services Regional Oversight Committee” or “Regional Oversight Committee”) will oversee the Supportive Housing Services Program. [...]

3. Membership.
The Supportive Housing Services Community Oversight Committee is composed of 20 members, as follows:
a. Five members from Clackamas County.
b. Five members from Multnomah County.
c. Five members from Washington County.
d. One representative from each of the Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah County Board of Commissioners and the Portland City Council to serve as ex officio members.
e. One member of the Metro Council to serve as a non-voting delegate.
 

 

SECTION 6. Local Implementation Plans[edit]

1. Local implementation plans are intended to document the proposed use of funds and how these uses align with the purposes of the Supportive Housing Services Measure. A plan must be submitted to the Oversight Committee for review and approval before the Metro Council approves it.

2. Local implementation plans must be developed using locally convened and comprehensive engagement processes that prioritize the voices of people with lived experience and from communities of color.

3. The locally convened body that develops the local implementation plan must include a broad array of stakeholders to develop the plan. Each county may convene a new committee or use a standing committee if the standing committee can demonstrate a track record of achieving equitable outcomes in service provisions to regional oversight committee.

4. Members of the convened body that develops the local implementation plan must include:

a. People with lived experience of homelessness and/or extreme poverty;

b. People from communities of color and other marginalized communities;

c. Culturally responsive and culturally specific service providers;

d. Elected officials, or their representatives, from the county and cities participating in the regional affordable housing bond;

e. Representatives from the business, faith, and philanthropic sectors;

f. Representatives of the county/city agencies responsible for implementing homelessness and housing services, and that routinely engage with the unsheltered population;

g. Representatives from health and behavioral health who have expertise serving those with health conditions, mental health and/or substance use disorder from culturally responsive and culturally specific service providers; and

h. Representation ensuring geographical diversity.

5. Local implementation plans must include the following:

a. A strategy for equitable geographic distribution of services within the respective jurisdictional boundary and the Metro district boundary.

b. A description of how the key objectives of Metro’s Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion have been incorporated. This should include a thorough racial equity analysis and strategy that includes:

(1) an analysis of the racial disparities among people experiencing homelessness and the priority service population;

(2) disparities in access and outcomes in current services for people experiencing homelessness and the priority service population;

(3) clearly defined service strategies and resource allocations intended to remedy existing disparities and ensure equitable access to funds; and

(4) an articulation of how perspectives of communities of color and culturally specific groups were considered and incorporated.

c. A review of current system investments or capacity serving priority populations, an analysis of the nature and extent of gaps in services to meet the needs of the priority population, broken down by service type, household types, and demographic groups.

d. A description of the planned investments that includes:

(1) the types of services, and how they remedy the service gap analysis;

(2) the scale of the investments proposed;

(3) the outcomes anticipated; and

(4) the service delivery models that will be used in each area of service.

e. A plan for coordinating access to services with partnering jurisdictions and service providers across the region.

f. A plan for tracking and reporting outcomes annually and as defined through regional coordination.

g. A plan to evaluate funded services and programs.

h. A description of how funds will be allocated to public and non-profit service providers, including transparent procurement processes, and a description of the workforce equity procurement standards.

i. A commitment that funding will be allocated as follows:

(a) 75 percent for people who have extremely low incomes and one or more disabling conditions, who are experiencing long-term or frequent episodes of literal homelessness or are at imminent risk of experiencing homelessness; and

(b) 25 percent for people who are experiencing homelessness or face/have substantial risk of homelessness.

j. A description of how the plan will remove barriers to full participation for organizations and communities by providing stipends, scheduling events at accessible times and locations, and other supportive engagement tactics.

k. A description of how the plan will prioritize funding to providers who demonstrate a commitment and delivery to under-served and over-represented populations, with culturally specific and/or linguistic specific services, as well as those programs that have the lowest barriers to entry and actively reach out to communities often screened out of other programs.
 

 

SECTION 8. Equity and Community Engagement[edit]

1. Metro has adopted a Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion which includes specific goals and objectives to ensure that all people who live, work and recreate in the greater Portland region have the opportunity to share in and help define a thriving, livable and prosperous region. A key objective throughout the strategy is a commitment to advance equity related to stable and affordable housing.

2. In implementing the Supporting Housing Services Measure, Metro will rely on the goals and objectives within the Strategic Plan to:

 Convene regional partners to advance racial equity outcomes in supportive housing services.

 Meaningfully engage with communities of color, Indigenous communities, people with low incomes and other historically marginalized communities in establishing outcomes and implementing the Supportive Housing Services Program.

 Produce and provide research and information to support regional jurisdictions in advancing equity efforts.

 Increase accountability by ensuring involvement of communities of color in establishing goals, outcomes, and implementation and evaluation efforts.

 Increase participation of communities of color in decision-making.

 Use equity criteria in resource allocation for the Supportive Housing Services Program.

3. Metro will actively work to remove barriers for organizations and communities to ensure full participation by providing stipends, scheduling events at accessible times and locations, and other supportive engagement tactics.
 

SECTION 16. Accountability of Funds; Audits[edit]

1. Each county or local government receiving funds must make an annual report to the Metro Council and the oversight committee on how funds from the taxes have been spent and how those expenditures have affected established homelessness metrics.


Supportive Housing Services Stakeholder Advisory Table[edit]

appointed in June 2020. Members list posted by Metro on June 20.

First meeting (online) scheduled for July 7:

"The purpose of the Stakeholder Advisory Table is to affirm and refine regional values and bring clarity to implementation of the regional supportive housing services program. The members are representatives from homeless and supportive housing services providers, community-based organizations and coalitions, business leaders and public health providers from across the region. This body will convene for four 2.5 hour meetings between July and September 2020.

Members (22):


Represented organizations that develop housing, or represent those that do:

Background:  Here Together coalition[edit]


 

Background:  research and reports[edit]

Metro Oregon, Planning and Development Department. "Memo: Potential Regional Supportive Housing Services Program Implementation." February 18th, 2020.  https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6782218/Metro-Supportive-Housing-Memo.pdf. 

Despite these federal and local investments in supportive housing and additional state and local investments to end homelessness, the need far exceeds our local capacity to provide sufficient supportive housing for people experiencing prolonged homelessness. The Point In Time Counts conducted in three metro area counties found as many as 5711 people experiencing homelessness, and 2362 people experiencing ‘chronic homelessness’ as defined by a disabling condition and repeated episodes of homelessness or a year or longer of continued homelessness.

 

Multnomah County. "The quiet and relentless work of preventing homelessness." 
March 14, 2019. https://multco.us/multnomah-county/news/quiet-and-relentless-work-preventing-homelessness. 
  Discusses rent-assistance programs in Multnomah County, including administration of Federal rent vouchers (done mostly by Home Forward agency, the former Portland Housing Authority), a county-level voucher pilot program for seniors funded by Meyer Trust, and other assistance programs. 

Jolin, Mark, et al. "Rental Assistance Briefing." Presented to Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, March 12, 2019. https://multnomah.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=1856&meta_id=133071. 
Marc Jolin, director of Joint Office of Homeless Services
Peggy Samolinski, director of the County’s Youth and Family Services Division; 
Laura Golino de Lovato, director of Northwest Pilot Project, 
Ian Slingerland, director of homelessness initiatives for Home Forward.
 

 

Effects on rent levels

 

Effectiveness - short and long term: 

Piña, Gabriel & Maureen Pirog (2018). "The Impact of Homeless Prevention on Residential Instability: Evidence From the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program." Housing Policy Debate:

ABSTRACT
Millions of individuals and families in the United States do not have access to stable housing. Recent policies in the United States and the rest of the developed world emphasize programs intended to prevent homelessness through temporary financial assistance. This article explores the impact of the largest homelessness prevention program in U.S. history, the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP), on residential instability, using a national sample of families with children enrolled in school. The identification strategy exploits variations on the location of HPRP providers. Using data on the ratio of K–12 students experiencing homelessness in school districts, we find that HPRP is associated with reductions in the percentage of homeless students for districts closer to an HPRP provider. However, the impacts of HPRP fade out when program benefits end, bringing into question whether homeless prevention can help families achieve self-sufficiency in the long run.

 

 

References[edit]