Chamber advocates at county for expanding shelters, sobering center and hospitality security

October 2023

On September 28, the Portland Metro Chamber testified to support the proposed investments by the Multnomah County Commission for the unanticipated revenue that the Supportive Housing Services (SHS) tax raised, along with the balance of the American Rescue Plan funds.

The Chamber supports the following proposed Multnomah County budget allocations:

  • $21 million for shelter access expansion.
    This funding will support the City of Portland’s Alternative Safe Shelter Sites, and add 620 shelter beds. This is one of the biggest shelter funding expansions proposed since the Supportive Housing Services (SHS) measure passed in 2020.
  • $12 million to re-establish an addiction stabilization center, sobering services.
    The current proposed center would include 8 sobering beds but not allow 24/7 first responder drop off.
  • $1.5 million for expansion of the Central City Concern Clean Start Program.
  • $200,000 to support creation of the Downtown Hotel Security District.
    The county has allocated $200,000, plus $400,000 in other needed security enhancements, to support expanded security within the Hotel Security District in Downtown Portland. These funds will combine with $800,000 in other public and private funds to support the hospitality and tourism sector over the next year.
  • $150,000 to develop a plan for a 24/7 sobering center by March 1.

The Chamber supported the overall plan but expressed concerns that a 24/7 first responder drop-off services were not included. “We are perplexed as to why the stabilization center will not roll out 24/7 first responder drop-off services. This is critical to the city’s recovery.” said Jon Isaacs, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs.

After hearing public testimony, Chair Vega Pederson proposed an amendment that would allocate $150,000 to study and develop a plan for a 24/7 sobering center. Commissioner Brim-Edwards will lead this effort and bring a plan back to the county board by March 1. The county has been without a 24/7 sobering center since December 2019.

The Chamber will continue to work with the County Chair Vega Pederson, Commissioner Brim-Edwards and the entire county commission and staff in support of the overall plan and development of the critical 24/7 sobering center that our community to desperately needs.

The county commissioner passed this plan in a 4-1 vote.