Shannon Singleton Walks Into Difficult Role

On Monday, JOHS announced it was increasing its shelter capacity after two years of social-distancing policies that limited how many people were allowed inside shelters.

Shannon Singleton takes over as interim director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services on March 28.

The aide to Gov. Kate Brown, who gave up a bid for Multnomah County chair to take the JOHS job, walks into an ongoing negotiation of the original intergovernmental agreement between the city of Portland and the county over how to manage the office, which had a budget of more than $160 million this fiscal year.

On Monday, JOHS announced it was increasing its shelter capacity after two years of social-distancing policies that limited how many people were allowed inside shelters. A spokesperson says JOHS now has more shelter beds than before the pandemic began. (That’s an announcement with some political significance, since city officials have pressed for more immediate alternatives to sidewalk campsites.)

Although the city contributes more general fund cash to JOHS than the county, Singleton will report to Kim Melton, chief of staff to County Chair Deborah Kafoury, with the city on the outside looking in.

And despite Oregon’s pay equity law, Singleton, a Black woman, will earn a salary of $165,000—$10,000 a year less than Jolin’s. JOHS spokesman Denis Theriault says that’s a reflection of Jolin’s long tenure in the job, which he started in 2015.