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Metro Council Signs Onto Letter Supporting the Concept of a Homeless Services Measure

That could make for a busy 2020 ballot.

All seven members of Metro Council have signed on to support a coalition seeking to fund social services to address homelessness through a potential ballot measure.

The group, calling itself the Here Together Coalition, has been working to develop a ballot measure, specifically to “secure the stable, ongoing revenue necessary to reduce homelessness across our region,” according to a policy framework document.

The letter, provided by Metro in response to a request from WW, includes signatures from Multnomah County chair Deborah Kafoury and Mayor Ted Wheeler, who have already endorsed the concept publicly.

But the show of support from Metro raises a question about whether Metro might refer the measure next year alongside its transportation measure planned for the 2020 ballot.

The backers, in their framework document, say the measure is intended to build on the housing bonds approved by Metro voters last year and Portland voters in 2016.

“Between 2016 and 2018 voters in the region overwhelmingly approved two affordable housing bonds worth nearly $1 billion, which will add more than 5,300 permanently affordable homes to our region,” the framework document leads.

We now have a unique opportunity to capitalize on those victories and our community’s priorities to enact measurable improvement on the lives of low-income residents in our region, and livability for everyone, while ensuring that for every one person this funding moves off the street, two more will not end up in similar predicaments.”

Metro spokesman Jim Middaugh cautioned that the housing bond took Metro 18 months to prepare, and Metro has been working for at least a couple years on the transportation measure.

"Council has not made any decisions other than that the community needs to invest more in the most vulnerable," says Middaugh.

And the letter signed by the Metro councilors makes clear there is more work to be done to outline the specifics of a proposal:

In the coming months our coalition will take on the hard work of developing a governance framework, outlining the necessary roles and responsibilities of an oversight body, identifying a revenue mechanism, and working with our area governments to bring this before voters. More work needs to be done, but with your support and advocacy we believe we can capitalize on this unique moment to continue bringing our neighbors home,” the letter signed by Metro councilors and others reads.