Today, City Council approved a budget that I believe balances the City’s needs in housing, public safety and transportation. I want to highlight a few specific new investments:
- This budget makes historic investments in housing and homeless facilities and services. The budget includes over $29 million in new investments in housing. This includes:
--$14.4 million for the Housing Investment Fund, which will be used to develop or preserve affordable housing.
--Over $12 million for projects prioritized by the “A Home for Everyone” collaboration, including support for homeless veterans, shelters and housing placement services.
--$690,000 for costs related to maintaining and improving homeless campsites.
--Additional funds for home repair grants, homeownership assistance and policy development of the City’s Inclusionary Housing program.
- This budget invests $858,257 in the equivalent of 13 9-1-1 telecommunicator positions at the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC). Like many 9-1-1 centers around the country, BOEC has faced a staffing shortage, which has meant longer, harder hours for our existing staff. Inadequate staffing can lead to longer hold times for 9-1-1 calls. Since seconds count in an emergency, we need to do everything we can to ensure 9-1-1 calls are answered promptly; this budget makes an investment in ensuring our 9-1-1 center can continue to serve the public. In addition, the budget directs the Bureau to conduct a staffing study to determine the ideal number of telecommunicators, as well as make recommendations about training, scheduling, ongoing education and quality control.
- This budgets promises $1.3 million to Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) to permanently fund the 13 firefighter positions that were previously funded by the “Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response” grant. PF&R is a core city service and I’m committed to maintaining it at full strength.
- The budget commits $1.5 million for paving projects in the next fiscal year, as well as $950,000 for signal reconstruction, $890,000 to replace a bridge and $300,000 for safety projects, via the Vision Zero Action Plan. A total of $300,000 in one-time General Fund resources is added to install rapid flashing beacons at two intersections in East Portland and to implement a crossing strategy involving an evaluation of a series of existing marked crossings on NE MLK Blvd. In addition, the budget allocates about $450,000 for the Out of the Mud Program, which works with communities to identify and bring currently unimproved streets up to code. Although this funding level for Out of the Mud is lower than the $1.2 million investment the City made last year, I am proud that we were able to maintain funding for the program at a level that will allow one or two projects to continue as planned, until more funding is made available.
- Like BOEC, the Police Bureau has faced a staffing shortage. The Police Bureau indicated that the best way to expedite the hiring of new officers is to increase the number of background investigators, reducing a bottleneck in their hiring process. This budget commits 16 new positions—totaling over $2 million—for background investigators.
In addition to these significant priorities, I was pleased about a few smaller investments, as well. For example, the budget commits $300,000 for the Parks for New Portlanders Program. At our budget hearings, a tremendous number of people showed up to express support for this program, including the World Cup Soccer Tournament that draws a huge number of diverse participants from all corners of the city. The budget also commits $10,000 for SummerWorks Interns at the City, a program that seeks to increase youth employment, especially among low-income youth of color. This is an important partnership that I’m pleased to see continue.