August 22, 2012
Today, the City Council unanimously approved an agreement to settle a lawsuit challenging the City's anti-camping ordinance. The agreement formalizes operational changes the Portland Police have already made in how they interact with people sleeping outside. Consistently applied, these changes will ensure that people sleeping outside are treated fairly and with compassion.
National drivers such as high unemployment, a broken mental health system, the foreclosure crisis, and rising healthcare costs continue to push families into homelessness. At a time of rising need and declining resources, we must work together - advocates, government, non-profits, business, and faith partners - to help our neighbors in need.
The Oregon Law Center and the City took a collaborative approach to this settlement. Under the agreement, the City will pay a small amount of damages to the plaintiffs, and the Oregon Law Center will forego attorney's fees in order to direct $37,000 to the Portland Housing Bureau's Short Term Rent Assistance program. Rent assistance is our most effective tool to prevent homelessness and quickly more people from the streets into permanent homes. The Oregon Law Center's support for this program reflects its genuine commitment to helping our community's most vulnerable.
Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to call home. Over the last four years, the Portland Housing Bureau has invested nearly $300 million to address our community's unmet housing needs, which includes ending homelessness one person, one family at a time. This settlement is one more confirmation that our collaborative approach is working.