Oregon’s homeless crisis is a humanitarian, public health and public safety emergency that impacts many communities across the state. And despite skyrocketing state and local government spending, Oregon’s homeless crisis is getting worse.
Under Kate Brown and Tina Kotek, the number of unsheltered homeless has grown; there are more dangerous tent cities in many more locales; more people using, buying, and selling drugs openly on the streets; more people in desperate need of mental health services; more waste and garbage piling up in public areas; and more people dying or being killed on our streets. No issue demands bolder leadership and change than Oregon’s homeless crisis.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will lead on homelessness with straight-talk and no-nonsense urgency. I will hold state and local officials accountable for achieving results. Having helped establish the Bybee Lakes Hope Center in North Portland, which provides a broad array of services to people experiencing homelessness, I know that homelessness is a complex issue.
As governor, I will lead with compassion – while also expecting personal responsibility. I will be honest about how the problem has been driven by our state’s mental health crisis, drug and alcohol addiction, access to recently legalized hard drugs, a sorely inadequate housing supply, poverty, and a tolerance for lawlessness.
My goal is to end unsheltered homelessness in Oregon, not enable it by turning a blind eye to the tragedy of tent camps. Even before I am sworn-in, I will convene state and local officials and non-profit organizations responsible for ending homelessness to set a path forward. I want to hear from everyone impacted by the homeless crisis, from the people living on the streets to the small business owners who deal with people sleeping in their doorways.
I have three objectives:
- Set a plan to end dangerous and unregulated camping in public places by creating more safe, designated camping areas and more emergency shelters with access to life-saving services. Oregon cannot continue to use public places as a waiting room for services and/or housing. This failed approach is dangerous and inhumane.
- Honestly address the role mental illness, drugs, addiction, and lawlessness play in the homeless crisis. This will include working to repeal the failed experiment to legalize hard drugs; supporting law enforcement; and mounting a full court press to provide services to those who need them, combined with job-training to ensure people are placed on the road to recovery, healing, and economic independence. Compassion without expectations, the current approach, is only creating more chaos, not durable solutions.
- End Oregon’s politician-created housing supply crisis so every Oregonian of any income level can afford to live here. Oregon needs to build 580,000 new housing units over the next two decades just to close our housing supply deficit and keep up with population growth. Our current anemic pace of home construction will leave us woefully short of meeting that need. As governor, I will get the politicians and outdated rules, regulations, and fees out of the way so we can fast-track construction and reduce the cost of building all types of housing options so every Oregonian can afford a roof over their head and a place to call home.