Dear friends and neighbors,

At Multnomah County, we are defined not only by what we stand for, but what we stand united against. And in 2019, we proved that defending our values does not prevent us from putting them into action.

Throughout the year, we assured immigrants and refugees who live and work in our community that they are welcome here in Multnomah County, despite constant attacks from the White House.

We stood with our homeless neighbors against national and local efforts to warehouse them far away from their jobs, children’s schools and communities.

We won a court victory against the Trump administration's efforts to redirect Teen Pregnancy Prevention funds to abstinence-only programs.

And together with other jurisdictions, we stood up against federal efforts to weaponize housing policy to separate families and further marginalize trans people experiencing homelessness.

Although we frequently said no this year, we made sure that resisting cruel policies from the White House wouldn’t dominate our work. As we stood with our friends in defiance, we also showed we could come together to make positive change in our community.

We launched the Diane Wade House -- a first of its kind Afrocentric transitional housing program, designed for and by women involved in the criminal justice system in Multnomah County.

In July, we officially became one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to stand with the young people who are suing the state of Oregon and the federal government over the climate crisis.

We also celebrated the opening of the largest affordable housing project in the county in 50 years, where 20 of those homes will be dedicated to survivors of domestic violence.

We transformed our family shelter model so that any family who enters our system will have their own personal space and wrap-around services to make sure that they will return to a home as quickly as possible.

In partnership with the Quest Center and Bridges to Change, we opened Oregon’s first sober housing program focused on the LGBTQ+ community.

And at the end of 2019 we successfully negotiated a deal with the City of Portland and Metro to dedicate tourism tax dollars to supportive housing.

As hard a year as it has been, we must not let hate distract us from our work. Together, we have shown we can take a stand against racism, inequality and indifference, while advancing forward. In 2020, I pledge to continue leading Multnomah County with the same spirit. For me, that will mean forging new relationships and strengthening old ones because our power lies in our collective commitment to making Multnomah County a better community for everyone. 

‘Love, positive energy and goodwill’: New family shelter, built with community’s helping hands, opens in Lents

Day space in Portland Homeless Family Solutions' Family Village shelter in Lents, which opened Dec. 16, 2019.

The transformation of Multnomah County’s family shelter system into one with personal rooms and onsite services reached completion Monday, Dec. 16, after Portland Homeless Family Solutionsopened its Family Village campus in Lents.

Once it reaches full capacity, the spacious and trauma-informed Family Village will offer personal rooms with round-the-clock safety to as many as 25 families (nearly 100 kids and parents) — more than three times the number of families served before the new space opened.

Beyond shelter, families at the Village will also be able to access a variety of services including rapid rehousing, homelessness prevention, life skills classes, mental health care, a meal, or a pack of diapers.

Read more here.

Multnomah County Juvenile Services Division to cease public release of youth photos with new law

On July 22, 2019, Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1008 into law. The new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2020, makes significant changes to policies and practices put in place by Measure 11.

Among the changes, the law ends the automatic adult prosecution of youth — ages 15 through 17 — for Ballot Measure 11 offenses specified in ORS 137.707 and applies confidentiality protections to criminal proceedings that are ultimately transferred back to juvenile court. And even though Senate Bill 1008 still allows adult prosecution for Measure 11 offenses for any youths who are waived into adult proceedings by the court, there are still some additional considerations after youths are sentenced as adults under Measure 11. 

Read more here.

Board of County Commissioners authorize tourism dollars for housing and homeless programs

The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, Dec. 5 approved a resolution which will use a portion of the region’s tourism revenue to support programs and affordable housing for low-income residents.

The vote amends an existing intergovernmental agreement among Metro, City of Portland and Multnomah County to develop the tourism industry in the Portland area. The Metro Council voted in favor of the modifications on Nov. 21, and the Portland City Council on Nov. 27. The funds will help the Joint Office of Homeless Services turn almost 300 affordable apartments into supportive housing. 

Commissioners celebrated the three-way agreement during a time in which local tourism is flourishing and vulnerable residents are under pressure. According to the Poverty in Multnomah County report, released earlier in the week, one third of Multnomah County residents are unable to meet their basic needs.  

Read more here.

Governor’s tour of Laurelwood Center shelter celebrates community relationships at the heart of ending homelessness

Celebrating a “new generation of shelters where we don’t just provide warmth and safety,” Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioners Jessica Vega Pederson and Lori Stegmann on Friday joined Gov. Kate Brown for a holiday tour with residents and staff from the Laurelwood Center on S.E. Foster Road.

The 120-bed County-constructed shelter for women and couples — with a clinic, commercial kitchen and case managers, plus space for pets and personal belongings — opened in August.

Read more here.