Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I'm thrilled to release my first proposed budget as Chair of Multnomah County. Over the past year, I have been traveling all over the county, hearing from our many diverse communities about what matters to them. I've heard stories about what works, and what needs improvement. I have a much better sense of how Multnomah County can do more to serve the public, especially underrepresented communities who suffer higher rates of sickness, unemployment and poverty. And I've worked with departments to create a budget intended to narrow those disparities.

I found it disheartening to hear how many of our neighbors struggle to provide safe and enriching environments for their children after the school day lets out.

As a public servant, that was hard to absorb. It was even harder as a mom. We must continue to work together to provide our kids alternatives to drugs and gangs, to keep them out of the criminal justice system and give them the hope -- and the future -- that they deserve.


Deborah Kafoury

Chair Kafoury releases proposed county budget for 2016

Top: Chair Kafoury releasing her purposed budget; bottom left: Karyne Kieta, Budget Director; bottom right: Multnomah County budget team

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury released her proposed 2016 Fiscal Year budget, with new investments in affordable housing, services for children and families, culturally specific services, and a new courthouse.

"This budget provides the road map and the means to accomplish our vision. It expresses our values, our goals and, if we've done our jobs right, the needs and desires of the community," she said during the May 7 board meeting.

"We are in better financial shape this year than we have been in many years. That gives us the opportunity, and the responsibility, to make important, targeted investments."

The proposed budget, Chair Kafoury's first in the position as the county's chief executive, includes $2 million in ongoing funding to help families and veterans secure permanent housing, and $5 million for a housing development fund to increase the number of affordable units in the county.

Read full article here.

Gretchen Kafoury honored in State resolution

Top: Chair Kafoury and family in the House chambers; bottom left: Rep. Kathleen Taylor; bottom right: Rep. Jennifer Williamson

On  May 10, the Oregon House of Representatives honored Chair Deborah Kafoury's mother Gretchen Kafoury, the longtime activist, advocate and local political leader. Chair Kafoury attended the event in the House chambers with her children, Alexander, Jacob and Anna, and her sister, Katharine. A handful of friends -- including former Home Forward executive director Steve Rudman -- also attended the event.

The resolution, co-sponsored by House Speaker Tina KotekRep. Jennifer Williamson and Rep. Kathleen Taylor, honored Gretchen Kafoury's tireless work in advocating for affordable housing and women's rights.

Rep. Williamson and Rep. Taylor spoke of Gretchen Kafoury's statewide advocacy for Oregonians who couldn't advocate for themselves, about her ability to build community, the example she set for women who would break into politics and her sense of humor.

Communities seek county commitment to culturally-specific programs

Board of Commissioners hear testimony May 13 in first of three public hearings on 2016 budget

The Coalition of Communities of Color held the first budget forum on May 13. Over 50 individuals told the Multnomah Board of County Commissioners why the 2016 budget should reflect an investment in programs that meet the cultural and language needs of their clients.

"It's very important that as demographics change, we become more and more a part of the community," said Coalition member Gerald Duloney, director of program advancement at Self Enhancement Inc.

Chair Kafoury encouraged residents to attend future hearings or to reach out individually to commissioners.

"Hearing from a variety of community members is heartwarming. It really helps us guide our budget process," She said. "We're looking forward to continuing the conversation about how best to serve all constituents of Multnomah County."

Read full article here.

New citizens celebrated at naturalization ceremony

Mona Baker of Indonesia (left) celebrates her new status as citizen as Chair Kafoury and Michael Hickman of The Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services look on.

In April, 19 men and women took the oath of allegiance at a ceremony of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, hosted at the Midland branch of the Multnomah County Library.

"I just thought it was about time. This just makes it official," said Luis Flores a social studies teacher at Floyd Light Middle School, who moved to the U.S. 20 years ago. "This has been my life for a long time."

Mihai Voivod of Romania arrived in the United States in 2009. He came to Oregon where he met a woman at a dinner party. They fell in love. They married. Their son is 4 months old.

"I already feel like I belong here," he said. "Now it feels like I'm officially adopted."

Chair Kafoury presided over the ceremony, "Some have escaped war, corruption or collapsed economies. For many of you, the road here was long, and it was hard," she said. "That courage will make our nation stronger." 

Read full article here.

Oregon Tradeswomen: Preparing the workforce for high paying manufacturing jobs

Employers are looking for motivated, organized workers for manufacturing jobs in Multnomah County. Manufacturing jobs pay significantly more than those in the service sector for employees with the same level of education (a whopping $72,228, compared to only $39,739 for non-manufacturing wage jobs in the private sector). Yet employers at a recent roundtable hosted by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc (OTI) told the audience that they have a difficult time filling these positions.

OTI  tries to bridge the disconnect between these living wage jobs and the local applicant pool. They are launching a two week intensive training program this summer to connect women to the metals and manufacturing programs so that they can benefit from and diversify the manufacturing field.

Employers told OTI that they are looking for mechanical aptitude, organization and a great attitude in their employees. If you are an employer in the manufacturing industry, OTI would like to work with you to connect women to metal and manufacturing jobs. You can download their survey here and return it to: Dennise M. Kowalczyk, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. 3934 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. #101 Portland OR 97212

Chair Kafoury meets with Latino families to talk strengths, barriers, concerns

"Our strength is in our families, our customs, the enthusiasm we have for pushing our kids to excel," Angelica Delgado told Chair Kafoury this week as she met with Spanish-speaking families to discuss her proposed budget and find out how to best meet the needs of the growing Hispanic community.

About two dozen parents who receive services through the Latino Network gathered May 6 to share the community's strengths, review programs that work, and raise concerns about rental costs, unsafe parks and limited programs for youth.

"Many of the issues you raised, you'll see those addressed in my budget. Then there are things we're going to have to work together on to find solutions," Chair Kafoury told the audience. "There are people who have a lot and others who have very little. I want to make sure people have access to the same services."

Read full article here.

Chair: We will improve health outreach to Somali-speaking residents

Chair Kafoury with members of the Somali American Council of Oregon

After two decades of immigration, the Somali community in Multnomah County is maturing and unifying.

County Chair Deborah Kafoury met with members of the Somali American Council of Oregon to discuss the county's budget and find out how it can better serve Somali residents.

Improved health education and outreach, more reliable interpretation services and investing in Somali-speaking healthcare workers topped their list.

"We need more health outreach. We need to hear about prevention but we don't get that knowledge," said Lul Abdulee, a Somali leader and a refugee resettlement case worker with Lutheran Community Services Northwest. "I've been here 10 years and yesterday was the first time I heard about Hepatitis prevention."

Read full article here.

Volunteers needed to survey homeless veterans

Portland/Multnomah County has set a bold goal to house every homeless Veteran by the end of 2015. To further that goal we are seeking volunteers to conduct surveys to help us identify every homeless Veteran.

We will be sending volunteer teams to sites around the County to gather information from veterans experiencing homelessness so that we get them housed.

Our First Registry Week is May 25 - May 31!

If you are interested in volunteering to be part of a team going out to sites and interviewing Veterans, please sign-up by
clicking this link.

Volunteer information and training session:
Thursday, May 21
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
East Portland Community Center
740 SE 106th Ave

For more information, or to RSVP, contact

Multnomah County Committees seek your input

Join the Charter Review Committee: Every six years, residents of Multnomah County are required to review the county home rule charter. The charter is the local version of a constitution, essentially creating the structure of Multnomah County government. A committee, appointed by state Senators and Representatives, meet to review the charter and suggest revisions which are put to public vote. An example of a charter change suggested by past Charter Review Committees includes the creation of the Library District (2010).

Click here for more information and how to join the Charter Review Committee.

Looking to get involved with Multnomah County? Click here for current volunteer opportunities.

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