Dear friends and neighbors,

The last two years I have had the privilege of serving you as Multnomah County Chair, presiding over an organization dedicated to helping those who need it most.

It is a humbling responsibility, and today I stand reflective at the end of my second year in office.

Over the last year we have done a lot together. We have provided shelter to hundreds of people who are homeless, kept thousands in their homes and found new homes for thousands more.

In our health clinics, we have helped children get the care they need, in our libraries we have filled their heads with possibility and in our SUN Schools we have helped foster in them the love of learning.

We have worked together to make a reality large, complicated projects like the replacement of the Sellwood Bridge. Things that have been on the books for many years, but have never gotten done.

And we have found ways of helping each other. Faith leaders, business leaders and people on the front lines have come together through our coalition, A Home For Everyone, to change the way our government works, prioritizing people over process. Never wavering from the resolve to make sure that everyone has a home.

At the end of this year, three of my colleagues will be leaving the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. Jules Bailey, Judy Shiprack and Diane McKeel have dedicated their time at Multnomah County to making our community better. And I thank them for their service, even as I am sorry to see them leave.

But their dedication to our community reminds me that it's the very human act of sacrifice that makes our community better. It's about people setting aside, for a moment, their own lives, so that they can serve their community.

It's up to all of us to pull together and work toward what, I believe, is our shared goal. To make our community a place where any child can realize her dream -- no matter where she is born, the color of her skin or the choices her parents made.

Over the past year I've had the privilege of working with many of you to make this place we call home better. And I hope that over the next year I have the privilege to work with even more of you to build the community that we all deserve.

May our years be bright together.


Deborah Kafoury

A video tribute to our three outgoing county commissioners

On Dec. 31, 2016, three Multnomah County commissioners will leave office: District 1 Commissioner Jules Bailey, District 3 Commissioner Judy Shiprack and District 4 Commissioner Diane McKeel. It is rare that the county loses so many talented leaders at the same time.

Each commissioner advanced Multnomah County's mission in a unique and lasting way. To learn more about the special contributions each commissioner made, check out these short videos prepared by the county Communications Office.

Commissioner Diane McKeel served 8 years in office.

Her contributions include focusing public attention on the abuse of local youth in the sex trade and improving opportunities for veterans working for and living in the county.

Commissioner Judy Shiprack served 8 years in office, following a career as a county staffer and state legislator.

Learn how she has worked to create a fair and efficient public safety system as co-chair of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council and helped pave the way for a new Multnomah County Central Courthouse.

Commissioner Jules Bailey served 2.5 years at the county.

Learn how he advocated for paid parental leave for county employees and advanced programs to ensure Columbia River flood protection and energy/seismic upgrades for commercial buildings.

White House: "Multnomah County and City of Portland have ended Veteran's Homelessness"

On Dec. 10 veterans and those who serve them gathered to celebrate the White House recognizing Multnomah County's efforts to offer any veteran who needs a home help in finding one.

Multnomah County and the cities of Portland and Gresham partnered with Transition Projects, Home Forward and community leaders to form A Home for Every Veteran, in order to provide every veteran the resources they need to get off the streets and back on their feet.

In 2015 this partnership placed 695 Veterans into permanent housing, including 291 chronically homeless Veterans. Since January 2016, there have been an additional 599 housing placements, including 156 chronically homeless Veterans.

"I was working full-time, had just made supervisor and gotten a pay raise, when boom, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis," said U.S. Navy veteran Daniel Kallunki. "All of a sudden life changed, and I found myself homeless." Through a federal rental subsidy administered by our housing authority and a program support services  to homeless veterans, Daniel was able to get into an apartment close to his daughter's home and school. "I would not have been able to be there for her without housing."

The federal recognition came as part of a challenge from the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama to end veteran homelessness in the United States. With that challenge came new federal resources and a resolve for local and federal government to work together toward a shared goal.

"Homelessness is tragic. But for those who have served our country, defending our rights as a free and open society -- the notion that we would leave them behind when they come home is beyond tragic. It's indefensible," said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

If you are a veteran facing the possibility of losing your home, or you know a veteran who needs help getting into housing, visit, or dial 2-1-1 for help.

We are simply thrilled: neighbors say as county breaks ground on health headquarters

Multnomah County Commissioners broke ground today on a new Health Department headquarters in Old Town/Chinatown. The new 9-story Gladys McCoy Headquarters promises to transform the dynamics and economics of the iconic Union Station neighborhood.

At least 500 health professionals, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory employees and administrators plan to move from other scattered sites into the new facility in early 2019.

"For more than 150 years, Multnomah County has prevented disease, promoted wellness and provided medical care for the most vulnerable. This building will carry that mission forward for the next 80 years," said Chair Kafoury. "Our community deserves a modern, efficient nerve center for that critical work."

The Health Department, the largest safety net health provider in Oregon, has sought to leave its current location at 426 SW Stark. The current headquarters is located in a 1923 former department store was never designed to meet current and future needs.

The new 157,000-square-foot building will bring together employees from the current headquarters and others in leased space. Commissioner Loretta Smith led a resolution to carry the name of the first American American county commissioner, Gladys McCoy, from the current site to the new location.

Helen Ying, chairwoman of the Old Town/Chinatown Community Association, said her organization testified its support to the Portland Planning Commission and City Council and has met with the Health Department staff to understand their work.

As excited as neighbors are about the building, she said, "we're more excited that the Health Department staff is going to be here, everyday, their shoes on the ground, walking around.

"We are simply thrilled."

Read full article here.

Businesses come together to help fund and open new winter shelter

At least 12 Portland businesses have joined with Multnomah County and the City of Portland to open a winter shelter downtown today for men who are age 55 and older, veterans or have a disability.

Project^ donated the first floor of the Bushong & Co. Building, a former all-age club and creative studio space for the Peace II shelter. Developer Tom Cody, inspired in part by a similar donation last year by the Menashe family, offered the space as a shelter for the next six months before further development.

"Portland businesses stepped forward with their time, talent and property to make this possible," said Chair Kafoury. "Government can't solve the housing crisis alone. Nonprofits can't do it alone. But together, we've created a safe, warm place for another 60 people to sleep during the worst months of the year."

The project came together in just a month with the City of Portland, Multnomah County, the building owner, contractors, service providers, neighbors and donors all working together.

The 60 beds are in addition to the 35 additional beds for women, 10 for youth, five for veterans, and more than 40 beds for families that are being added for the winter months. Another 550 publicly funded beds have opened in the year-round shelters over the past year.

Read full article here.

Multnomah County and Portland Public Schools celebrate 30 years of school-based health

The Roosevelt High School health center, the first in Oregon, is turning 30.

Multnomah County and Portland Public School leaders cut the ribbon on a new school-based health center (SBHC) after school bond renovations at Roosevelt.

Dozens of current and former staff -- including the high school principal and health officials who opened the original clinic -- celebrated alongside students and administrators.

"The Roosevelt School-Based Health Center was the first west of St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a historic step in a national movement and one that the Multnomah County Commission, Portland Public Schools and Oregon Legislature can be proud of," Said Chair Kafoury.

Chair Kafoury's late mother, Gretchen, was one of those County Commissioners. Her father, Stephen Kafoury, was on the Portland School Board at the time.

"My parents believed health was critical for children to be successful in the classroom, and so do I," the Chair said.

Today, Multnomah County has 13 health centers across Portland Public Schools, David Douglas, Parkrose, and Centennial school districts. There are a total of 75 SBHCs across the State and 2,315 across the nation.

Seeking applicants for the Oregon Historical Society Levy Oversight Committee

Oregon Historical Society

In May, Multnomah County voters approved the renewal of a five-year levy to support the Oregon Historical Society. Part of the accountability built into the measure is the creation of an independent community oversight committee charged with reviewing all levy expenditures to ensure they are used for their intended purpose. The committee will meet semi annually and will represent Multnomah County's diverse communities. Applicants must reside in Multnomah County.

How to apply:
Interested candidates should submit a completed application form to the Office of Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Attention: Anna Marie Allen. You can do this by:

You can also nominate someone to serve on the Levy Oversight Committee. The Chair's Office will contact the individual to inform them of the nomination and invite them to participate in an informal information session to gauge their level of interest.
The deadline to submit an application is January 31 by 11:59 p.m.

If you have additional questions contact Anna Marie Allen, Community Engagement Advisor, by email at

Remember that all Multnomah County residents can visit the Oregon Historical society for free.

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