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Oregon Governor Declares Homelessness State of Emergency

Bart Brewer | NAMI Clackamas Newsletter Editor

Tina Kotek, the newly elected Oregon governor, declared a homelessness state of emergency during her inaugural day in office on Jan. 9th, a declaration that comes with three executive orders that attempt to help alleviate the situation:

  • · Declaring the state of emergency, which allows for funds to be made available to the tune of $40 million, and for further investigations and inquire to take place.

  • · Directing state agencies to prioritize reducing homelessness, which will expand access to existing programs and create new programs to fight homelessness.

  • · Establish a statewide housing production goal and housing production advisory council, with a set goal of 36,000 homes made per year.

It is no secret that homelessness is deeply linked with mental health. People who suffer from a lack of housing generally have worse mental health outcomes, with anywhere from a quarter to a third of homeless individuals being affected by mental health issues. These issues tend to go untreated, especially if individuals remain unhoused.

By taking steps to reduce homelessness, Governor Kotek is also taking steps to reduce mental health issues, for housing is one of the most important steps that can be taken in this area. Housing provides stability, and with stability comes the ability to better tackle one’s mental health. It puts you into a positive feedback loop, where stability allows for more

opportunities, which provide further stability. What’s important is that it starts somewhere.

These are good first steps to tackling homelessness within the state, and the mental health issues that come with it. As the year progresses, we hope to see these new programs expanded to more purposefully include mental health considerations, such as increased access to counseling and care.

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