HereTogether’s Proposed Homeless Service Measure

February 11, 2020

A Metro Council ballot measure to increase support for comprehensive homeless services is rapidly gaining support with the aim of appearing on the upcoming May ballot. With the goal of expanding upon the already strong work being done in our community in order to meet the full extent of the obvious need, the ballot measure calls for an end to the incremental response of the last decade. 

There is an obvious widespread crisis happening in our community. We can all see it. Far too many people are living on the streets with little chance of escaping the cycle, and thousands more are teetering on the edge between stability and homelessness. 

The systems are broken and have been letting too many of our neighbors fall through the cracks for far too long. We could be doing so much more. We have the institutions, networks, organizations and passionate people to pull it off, we just need the capacity. 

Incrementalism, the short-stepped approach that has been used over the past decade is not working. We need real, comprehensive, region-wide, action, and we need it now. We have the means, but we have to act now. As HereTogether, the coalition working to get this measure on the ballot, puts it: Homelessness is not “unsolvable”

HereTogether describes themselves as: 

“A large and diverse, encompassing membership from all three counties in the Metro region, and including elected leaders, people with lived experience of homelessness, communities of color, service providers, healthcare, faith communities, the business community, and more.”

Over the last year the coalition has worked to identify a comprehensive, region-wide solution to the homelessness crisis: Increasing funding for supportive services to expand their ability to meet the current need.

We know what works. It’s not a secret. 

Services like client-centered case management; individualized reentry plans; rental assistance; culturally-responsive services lead with rache and equity; job training; mental health and addiction counseling; and many others all working concurrently to provide our fellow community members with a place of stability and strength. There is no cookie cutter answer to this crisis. It takes comprehensive individualized support made easily accessible and that are properly funded. 

With extensive research done alongside numerous community partners, the coalition’s research expects this measure to cost $250-$300 million annually. The proposed source of funding is a (1-2%) tax on high-income earners and it will expand the social services in our community, resulting in increased capacity of our service providers, a stronger more capable populace, and a more united community as a whole. 

We can solve the crisis. We can bring out the very best in our community. We just need to act. 

The Metro Council vote on whether the measure will appear on the upcoming May ballot is scheduled for Tuesday February 25, 2020.