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How to Handle Homelessness

Everyone knows that rampant homelessness is a huge issue in the Portland area. But what people don’t know is that there is a solution available that Clackamas County can use immediately to help solve it.

The current Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is blaming the area’s growing homelessness on budget cuts. This is, unfortunately, just an attempt to hold taxpayers’ wallets hostage and avoid responsibility for their own blatant, irresponsible mismanagement of county resources.

Funds are already available to bolster programs that are proven to work effectively to address the root causes of homelessness and keep people off the streets. The best part is, this can be done without further burdening county residents with more unnecessary taxes.

As part of criminal justice reform efforts, the Legislature has placed more of an emphasis on community corrections programs. The idea is to keep non-violent offenders from ending up in prison.

 An alternative to incarceration, community corrections programs keep those offenders in the community, so they can keep working, paying taxes, being with their families and contributing to society. Community corrections also offers structure and programs that helps offenders to change their behaviors and has accountability measures to keep them from committing more crimes.

There is a surplus of money at the state level for community corrections programs of around $2.5 billion. This represents a golden opportunity for Clackamas County to deal with homelessness in an effective, yet compassionate, manner.

Homeless who are contacted by law enforcement could be helped through the community corrections system. The cause of their individual homelessness can be determined through that process. If it’s mental illness, it can be diagnosed so treatment can be sought. If it’s addiction, they can be referred to programs to get them clean and keep them that way. Some people become homeless due to job loss. Luckily, there are employment opportunities that can be made available to them through these programs.

These are all evidence-based programs that have been proven to work and utilize existing funding streams.

By contrast, the current Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is supporting Metro’s new income tax for the homeless this May primary election.

While sounding altruistic, this is the fourth Metro tax in 18 months and this regional agency has no experience whatsoever in curing the big three causes of homelessness: Addiction, Mental Health and Joblessness. Chair Jim Bernard is abdicating leadership of Clackamas County to Portland by supporting another tax on the backs of our citizens.

Compare how the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office is already addressing the homeless crisis with the programs just mentioned. Instead of taxing citizens to fund Metro with its unproven experience, let’s support out own efforts by prioritizing spending and services, I plan to address this problem effectively as the next chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

One thought on “How to Handle Homelessness

  1. Dale a Kerlin says:

    Ms. Smith, please know that I have advanced solid workable programs to address these issues the Clackamas Co. commissionars via Mary Joe, assistant to the commissionars, She has a proposal in front of her that would be easily achieved, and should in myh mind be implimented immediately. I would love to discuss this with you in person, please not thaat we live near each other, and my wife and I are long term Oregonians, but very frustrated by the lack of forward thinking. We are retired, and My wife is a retired enviornmental health specialist, I am a Husky grad, and have been a general contractor for many years. We have two daughters, the youngest of which fell into drug addiction, and spend a lot of time in front of Judge Kathie Steele ( a great lady with a ton of patience ). Part of my letter to the commissionars delt with expunging records, Our daughter has been clean for over 5 years, and has had three job advancements, but promotion is not going to be easy with a felony conviction, ( she works in a hspital , and has had two promotions offered but rescended when her back ground review came up each time. and no, she had always told them up front about her time, and both times her supervisors tried to get her promoted ) Point here is that the STATE LEGISLATURE should ( IN MY OPINION ) pass laws to provide a autoomatic expunge of non violent records after 3 years of NO NEW offences. This would make it financially possible for many, many felons to clean up their records without having to pay private attorneys thousands of dollars, which they do not have!! Young people such as our daughter would have a huge endcentive to stay clean, and their future would be much better, some could join the military, but most would have far better job oppertunities than working at fast food and other low skill, low paying jobs. We have seen many former inmates, who we initialy saw at Coffee Creek, working at Sherris, Carl Jr. etc, and they are not doing all that well. Point is to give them a real achievable goal up front, and allow them to become better tax payers, and better members of society. This would not cost the state anything, and could lead to a much higher taxable income basis.
    I also believe as a high tech contractor that a campus complex near the new Water and Soil building ( Beavercreek ) could resolve many issues, We have built a dormatory complex in O’Dell Oregon, for migrant housing needs. This is a project you can view on line, and research via the states housing program sponsered by Mr Buz Ortiz. I have given the brochures to Mary Jo to distribute to the county commissionars, These facilities are a revelutionary panalized system that are insanely inexpensive, absolutly fire proof, able to be 5 stories tall, and meet Calif. earthquake standards, all for about $ 140.00 per sq. ft. The proposal was for 1) homeless units, 2) drug and alcohol rehab, 3) Battered womens shelter, and 4) battered mens shelter. These would be in one complex, and a major portion could be in power line right of ways, for use as parking, training, crops, recreation, and many other functions not allowed in this open space. The complex concept would make additional training viable such as real food handling, real pesticide training, real auto shop traing, real nurses aid training, real beuty and hair training, and so on. This is just a quick overview , and I/we Mr Ortiz would like to meet with you to flesh this out. Sincerely, Dale Kerlin

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