Dear Friends and Neighbors,

My colleagues and I unanimously adopted the 2016 budget yesterday, approving targeted investments in affordable housing, the health of our children, and vital infrastructure projects.

This was my first time crafting a budget as chair and I'm proud of the results.

The need in our community is real and sobering. Too many of us are feeling left behind. Too many of us are living on the edge. And for many, Multnomah County is the place they go for help.

Thankfully, we have new resources this year that allow us to expand our mission.

We are investing significant new ongoing resources to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. This includes investments in culturally specific healthcare, support for students and juvenile justice diversion.

This budget includes $2 million in new ongoing funding to help individuals and families find permanent homes. And for the first time ever, we are putting $5 million into a housing development fund to increase the number of affordable housing units across the county.

We are committing $28 million in this budget to replace our seismically unsafe downtown courthouse, my top capital priority.

We're also making investments in mental health, increased resources for seniors, an expansion of our summer works program, -- the list goes on.

I believe this budget will make real and lasting change in the lives of those we serve. And it is an important first step toward making Multnomah County more fair and more equitable.

Sincerely,

Deborah Kafoury

Multnomah County Board of Commissioners adopts 2016 budget

The Multnomah Board of County Commissioners Thursday adopted a 2016 budget that heavily invests in programs targeted at narrowing racial divides in health, safety, education, criminal justice and financial stability.

"I believe this is a budget that will help make real and lasting change for our community," Chair Deborah Kafoury said of the $1.8 billion budget. "It is an important first step toward making Multnomah County more fair and more equitable."

Commissioner Judy Shiprack said Kafoury prepared a budget that balanced human need with fiscal responsibility.

"Thank you Chair Kafoury for crafting an outstanding executive budget to focus on the needs of our youngest, our oldest, our most vulnerable, and those who have no place to call home," said Shiprack. She said investing in the courthouse replacement project now helps ensure the county can break ground on a new site in 2016. It will also allow the county to avoid future borrowing costs.

"So your budget is not only a budget that reflects the humanity of the county but also reflects our eye to a good investment," she said.

The 2016 budget sets aside $28 million in one-time funds to invest in the replacement of the county courthouse, balances the budget over three years, invests $2 million in ongoing new funding for permanent housing and $5 million to increase the number of affordable housing units.

Read full article here.

Chair Kafoury talks housing, equality, fiscal responsibility in State of the County address

Incomes are up and business is thriving. New apartments are rising in the heart of downtown Portland in anticipation of thousands of affluent new residents.

That is one reality, County Chair Deborah Kafoury said last Friday during the 2015 State of the County address to the City Club of Portland. In another reality, one she sees everyday, the number of living wage jobs is down.

"Far too many people are just one unexpected setback -- a job loss, a bad doctor's visit, a divorce -- away from the edge," she said.

While white families have recovered wages lost during the last recession, no one else has.

"If you're Latino, there are three Portland neighborhoods where you can reasonably afford to buy a home," she said. "If you're Black or Native American? Zero."

Kafoury outlined efforts to narrow the socioeconomic divide that disproportionately affects people of color. She highlighted initiatives to increase affordable housing, combat homelessness, support at-risk youth, and narrow racial and ethnic health disparities in the coming fiscal year.

Read full article here.

Chair Kafoury in the news

County projects take spotlight | Portland Tribune

Kafoury's budget focuses on kids, families, housing | Portland Tribune

Yes, Homelessness is growing in Portland, but not as fast as you might think | Portland Tribune

Mental health services and programs for at-risk teens round out budget hearing

The Multnomah Board of County Commissioners heard from more than 40 East County residents during a May 27 budget hearing in Gresham. They spoke on behalf of a dozen programs including El Programa Hispano, Impact Northwest, Unity Behavioral Health Center, Pathfinders of Oregon and Rockwood Pathways Project.

The hearing was the second of three leading up to the June 18 adoption of the budget. The third and final hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m., June 10 at the Multnomah Building. Interpretation services are available in Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian.

Read full article here.

Rock the Block helping unite East County communities

Chair Kafoury joined East County's diverse communities during Rockwood neighborhood's Rock the Block festival on May 30.

The annual festival creates a fun and safe environment for community building and youth activities.

More information and photos of Rock the Block can be found here

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