Dear friends & neighbors,
Things continue to change rapidly as we work to address the COVID-19 outbreak, and I want to provide you with the latest updates and resources on how you can stay safe and be prepared.
As you’ve likely heard, Governor Kate Brown has extended the closure of public schools through April 28th. She has also required that all restaurants and bars only serve take-out and delivery, and banned on-site consumption.
Locally, we have implemented a number of important measures, including:
- An eviction moratorium in Multnomah County for 6 months.
- An expansion of shelter capacity to help with social isolation and as a back up to hospital needs and capacity;
- The closure of libraries;
- Moved to hold Board meetings virtually; and
- Required non essential employees to work from home.
You can find out more about these measures on my webpage, along with resources on how to obtain food, critical services, and updates on the evolving outbreak and our response.
I cannot stress enough the need to abide by the physical distancing guidelines recommended by public health experts. It is important to maintain at least 6 feet distance from others, restrict your interactions to those that are in your household, and stay home for 14 days if you or anyone else in your household is sick.
This outbreak will continue to spread, cause fatalities and wreak further havoc on our economy if we don’t take these measures seriously, and I know you will.
While these are stressful times, it is also important to reach out to one another, step aside from the constant barrage of news, and find space for relaxation and peace. Please make space and time for that as well. Sincerely,
Transit Expansion & YouthPass
I was excited to join TriMet last month to celebrate the addition of several frequent-service lines that run through our region. Expanding frequent service lines is a huge deal for riders, providing more reliability, more convenience and more options.
Our region is growing, and so is our traffic. The best way to move people is on our transit system. Making that system work for individuals and families is a climate-friendly, equitable, responsible way to reduce traffic, improve community, and get people from place to place efficiently.
We also know that the long-term success of our transit strategy hinges on our ability to expand transit ridership, particularly among youth. Students need transit access to get to school, work, and activities around their communities, and fostering a future generation of transit riders will pay dividends for our transit system and our climate goals.
That’s why I am a strong supporter of expanding the YouthPass program to our entire region, allowing all youth under the age of 18 to ride transit for free. The expansion of this program could be included in a potential Metro transportation measure, and over the coming months I will be working with youth advocates, TriMet, and our regional partners to devise a strategy for how to expand this important program.
Maintaining Critical Services
Our county government serves as the social safety net for our community. We provide public safety, critical housing and healthcare, and vital social services that touch nearly every aspect of our community.
We have seen the number of people most vulnerable - our homeless population, as well as those in poverty, and/or suffering from behavioral and/or addiction issues - grow.
For that reason, the Board of Commissioners voted to make changes to the Business Income Tax. Those changes increased the tax from 1.45% to 2%, but will also provide a tax cut to 14,000 small businesses.
I don’t think it’s lost on anyone that we may be plunging into a recession as a result of the coronavirus, which is dramatically affecting our economy. It is a tough decision to raise taxes, but not making this change means cuts to programs and services that impact thousands of vulnerable residents of Multnomah County.
This coronavirus crisis also highlights the fact that we cannot count on the federal government to solve our problems. We have to deal with these issues on our own, and strive to create the community that we want and expect.
I think it’s one that invests in our most vulnerable and gets upstream from our problems. And I hope you agree.
Join the Preschool for All Movement
Our work to ensure access to quality, joyful, preschool for all 3-and-4-year-olds in Multnomah County continues to move forward in exciting ways and as we build momentum, I want to make sure you know where to stay up to date on the effort. It’s more clear than ever that working families need universal preschool and support for their children, and we need everyone to join us in making this happen.
Stay Tuned: Virtual Townhall on COVID-19
My office is looking to hold a virtual town hall next week on COVID-19. What questions would you have of local and state government leaders about the COVID-19 crisis? What would you ask our public health experts?Let me know your questions by email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More details about the virtual town hall will be shared shortly.