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RPC Statement on legislation addressing unsheltered homelessness in Portland

RPC provided this testimony to the Portland City Council as they considered several ordinances addressing outdoor unsanctioned homelessness and camping. RPC supports this legislation, with the condition that the city continue to increase shelter and sanctioned opportunities for those experiencing street homelessness. These ordinances are drafted to comply with a recent legal settlement and state legislation on public encampment management. We see this legislation a necessary step that may also lead to increased access to services and treatment. For more details & information about the legislation see this Blog Post.

RPC's submitted testimony:

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The RPC Homelessness subcommittee has consistently called for the following steps to be taken. This legislation, at least in part, addresses several of these points.

Goal: Build support for a system that addresses ALL aspects of homelessness in a transparent and results-oriented approach.

Specifically, we believe the Portland region needs:

• Adequate numbers of shelter beds, safe rest villages, and additional beds at the Oregon State Hospital to meet the needs of the entire homeless population, especially including those with the most severe mental illnesses.

• Addiction treatment, mental health counseling, vocational training, and all other services

necessary to address the needs of the houseless.

• Deployment of competent, trained outreach workers and tracking of individuals’ progress using data-driven, by-name list methodologies.

• Enforcement of applicable criminal codes and statutes using as humane means as possible, including using diversion programs and drug courts, with prosecution as the last resort; and

• Transparency of information among agencies and groups to monitor accountability and ensure our tax dollars are being used the most efficiently and for the greatest benefit.

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