Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury pledges a tax on high-income households passed by Portland-area voters last year will make a visible difference on the streets.
Kafoury made that promise in a cover interview with WW this week. And she repeats the prediction to the Dive podcast: The funds will provide the baseline for a county budget that will house 1,300 families.
“Last May, the voters in Multnomah County, Washington County, and Clackamas County had the foresight to pass the homeless services ballot measure,” Kafoury says. “People are always wondering: Where did that money go? We voted for millions and millions of dollars? Where did it go? Well, we don’t have it yet. That money comes online July 1. And at that point we are going to have the ability to get people off the street and into housing. We are going to be able to fund 1,300 households in one year.”
Here are three other significant exchanges from the podcast conversation:
Willamette Week covered a disagreement and compromise that took place between your office and the mayor’s office revolving around the issue of homelessness. Tell us about what went on behind the scenes there.
I think there’s a lot of misconception about that. Let’s just say the press likes to highlight the differences that are occurring. In this case, we have great agreement.
How do you get the vaccine to harder-hit communities that aren’t able or willing to just come into the Convention Center to get a COVID-19 vaccination?
It depends on what community [they] are in. For example, some communities feel safe and comfortable going to a church to get their vaccine. They feel better about it if they have their pastor or they have some trusted church partners there to greet them and usher them through the process. They feel much more comfortable. Other communities have a distrust of a church or a mosque or a synagogue and they don’t want to go there, they would much rather be at their health care provider.
What are you looking forward to most in the coming year?
We’re going to be implementing some new programs that are going to quite literally change people’s lives. Not just the homeless services ballot measure that we’ve talked a lot about, but also the preschool-for-all measure, which is going to allow every child in Multnomah County to have access to high-quality, free child care. It’s going to change people’s lives. It’s going to change the trajectory of lives for the children.