Dear friends and neighbors,

Last week the Joint Office of Homeless Services presented the latest Multnomah County homeless street count.

For the first time ever more people are in temporary shelter than sleeping on our streets. But at the same time, the number of people who are homeless is still rising and the number of people on our streets with mental illness or addictions is increasing.

While I am encouraged that the work we’re doing through our partnership, A Home For Everyone, is getting people off the street and into housing, it’s also clear that we need to do more.

Since 2015, rents have grown 20 times faster than wages so finding a decent affordable apartment is harder today than ever before. And for people with disabilities, finding and keeping housing is even harder.

Ending chronic homelessness will take dedicated resources and permanent supportive housing. By bringing wraparound services directly to affordable housing, we can help move people out of homelessness and keep them in housing.

But these kinds of apartments are in short supply. Our community is short 1,800 permanent supportive housing units. That’s why I am working with my colleagues to identify the resources we need to expand our stock of supportive housing.

I hope you’ll join me in this effort, it will take time and dedication, but our progress so far shows what’s possible when we work together to end homelessness.


Deborah Kafoury

Watch Chair Kafoury on KGW's Straight Talk discussing the homeless street count and housing.

Multnomah County Board unanimously adopts 100 percent renewable energy goal

The Multnomah County Board voted unanimously on Thursday, June 1 to commit the county to reaching its goal of 100 percent renewable energy use community-wide by 2050.

The Multnomah County Board voted unanimously earlier this month to commit the county to reaching its goal of 100 percent renewable energy use community-wide by 2050.

The county’s targets touch on all energy sectors and will require action at all levels: individual and community, local and state government, and businesses and utilities. Goals include reducing carbon-intensive vehicle use and increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. The county will also work with utility companies to replace fossil fuels with green energy.

Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson introduced the resolution, which was done in partnership with the City of Portland and numerous stakeholders representing community organizations, environmental groups, utility companies, and environmental justice nonprofits. Portland City Council approved a renewable energy resolution hours after the county.

“This is a pledge to our children’s future,’’ Chair Kafoury said at a press event. “One hundred percent renewables means a future with cleaner air, a stable climate, and more jobs and economic opportunity.’’

Read more on the county's website.

Kenton Women's Village opening celebrated

The sleeping pods that make up part of the Kenton Women's Village project. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities, 2017)

On Friday, June 9, officials, neighbors and community partners paused to mark the imminent opening of the Kenton Women's Village and celebrate the collaboration that led to the moment.

“If we’re going to succeed, it’s because we’ve brought together new people, new ideas and new energy, and there’s a lot of that here today,” said Chair Kafoury. The City/County Joint Office of Homeless Services is supporting Catholic Charities’ work with the village.

Crucial groundwork included months of outreach with the Kenton Neighborhood Association, whose members voted 178-75 to welcome the facility this spring.

“We had to decide if this was ultimately something we wanted in our back yard. The answer was that we did,” said Tyler Roppe, the neighborhood association’s board president, who said interest from neighbors has been “enthusiastic” and “overwhelming.”

Read full article here.

Community braves heat and hate to celebrate at 25th annual Good in the Hood

Summer in Multnomah County is a time when community comes together to celebrate through festivals, concerts and parades. Recent acts of violence and intimidation have made some people hesitate to attend, but it didn't stop hundreds of people from joining the 25th annual Good in the Hood festival and parade the weekend of June 23-25. Shade, cold drinks and air conditioned TriMet buses that doubled as temporary cooling centers helped people celebrate in spite of record temperatures.  

As the summer festival season progresses, Multnomah County leaders are urging people to continue to support and enjoy the events that bind our community together. “With hundreds of events scheduled between May and September, we can celebrate the traditions of different cultures, food and drink from all over the world, and the neighborhoods that make our county special,’’ says Chair Kafoury. “We want people to participate and to be prepared.’’

Read tips on staying safe while attending community events from Chair Kafoury and Sheriff Mike Reese.

Summer reading ideas from the Multnomah County Library and Chair Kafoury's office

Summer reading is underway for people of all ages, including Chair Kafoury and her staff. Join the fun by participating in one of the many summer reading programs offered by Multnomah County Library!

Babies, kids and teens can participate in the library’s Summer Reading program to stay sharp and earn fantastic prizes. The library offers an incredible array of fun and captivating programs for people of all ages and free healthy lunches for children at three locations. Summer Reading is supported by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to the library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support. Adult readers can also get in on the fun and prizes by taking part in the library’s Read 4 Life Adult summer reading, made possible by the Friends of the Library.

Chair Kafoury and staff summer reading picks

On the Ragged Edge of Medicine by Patricia Kullberg. "I've heard nothing but rave reviews for this book written by the former Medical Director for the Multnomah County Health Department and I can't wait to read it." - Chair Kafoury

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero. "Get to know one of the stars behind 'Orange is the New Black' and 'Jane the Virgin.' At 14, Guerrero came home from school to find her parents gone—detained by federal immigration authorities. She tells the story of what happened after her parents’ deportation and how she faced addiction and instability on her way to a career in television." - Kim

The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. "This book is a throwback to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie—lots of suspects and twists! The perfect beach read." - Liz

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. "Desmond exposes the day-to-day struggle that people experience when the landlord decides their fate." - Christian

Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell. "Everyone wants to have significance in their lives, to do and be someone important. John Maxwell says 'the key to choosing a life that matters is being intentional.' Choose the life you want to live and be intentional in your pursuit of it." - Camille

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. "Neil Gaiman takes the great Norse myths of the ancient world and transforms them into a novelized saga.  This book is a great and readable introduction into Norse beliefs, as Gaiman uses modern prose to give life to these century old tales." - Adam

LaRose by Louise Erdrich. "The matriarch of Native American writers delivers an absolutely humbling, often hilarious and miraculous story of how individuals and a community come back from unspeakable loss." - Julie

Love and Rockets by the Hernandez brothers. "My favorite comic series has returned with its complex cast of characters now older, some wiser, some not." - Mary-Margaret