February 4, 2013
I write to update you on the City’s budget and its impact on the Portland Housing Bureau.
This year, the City is facing a $25 million hole in its General Fund. Mayor Hales has asked all bureaus to identify cuts of 10% to the General Fund portion of their budget.
For the Portland Housing Bureau, that means a cut of more than $1 million – in addition to a possible million dollar cut to the bureau’s federal funding.
Starting today, and for the duration of the budget process, Mayor Hales will assume responsibility for all City bureaus, including the Portland Housing Bureau.
What can we expect in the upcoming budget?
First, some context.
Last year, working together, we protected Safety Net programs and services for our community’s most vulnerable – including rent assistance, foreclosure prevention, and extra shelter beds during the winter months.
But we also did something even more important – we successfully converted the bureau’s $4.6 million in “one-time” funding to “ongoing.”
One-time money is treated as a new request each year, while ongoing funding is considered part of the bureau’s base budget. That’s especially important this year, when we face a $25 million General Fund shortfall and forecast no one-time funding.
In other words, had we not been successful last year, we’d be facing a potential cut of $5.6 million – in short, a wipeout of core investments to prevent and end homelessness in our community.
I am grateful to our community partners for rallying around the Safety Net last year, and proud of our success.
Over the next few months, I will be working with the Mayor and my Council colleagues to close a $25 million hole while preserving core City services. We will have to make some very tough decisions. As in prior years, I will continue to prioritize investments in public safety, job creation, and the safety net.
Once again, the Council will need to hear your voice in order to protect the vital programs and services low-income Portlanders depend on.