PORTLAND, Ore (KOIN) – Some Oregon lawmakers want the state to hand out cash to people to help with the homeless crisis.
Sen. Wlnsvey Campos and Rep. Khanh Pham are chief sponsors of Senate Bill 603, which would give $1,000 a month in cash to 1,000 Oregon households on a trial basis — $25 million total.
Those who qualify would have to either be homeless, at risk of becoming homeless or struggling to pay rent – earning 60% below the median income – with a focus on seniors, families with children and homeless youth.
The money for housing assistance would come from taxpayers through the state’s general fund, and the Portland State University Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative would work on a trial basis to gauge its success, determining whether it should continue or be expanded.
“Rental assistance is not as readily available as we would like it to be, and I say that as someone who has worked as a case manager in the space to get folks into housing,” Campos said.
The bill indicates the money is supposed to be used for items like rent, transportation, medical bills, and student loans.
Some critics say they are concerned with a lack of direct accountability regarding how that money would be spent and question why the bill sponsors would opt to use taxpayer dollars instead of a grant program.
“We want to make sure that we are being accountable… that we are seeing where the dollars are going, so that’s why this is initially a pilot program,” Campos said.
PSU would come up with guidelines and monitor the impact if the bill were to pass. Campos and Pham say the program has been tried in other cities around the country and has been successful in keeping people housed.