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Candidate's homelessness tactics should be used as a guide for voters in deciding on the next Multnomah County chair

Candidate's homelessness tactics should be used as a guide for voters in deciding on the next Multnomah County chair

3:55 pm EST A fifth candidate has indicated an interest in running for Multnomah County chair. Sharia Mayfield, an attorney, provided a response in shortened form, which includes.

Candidate for the Multnomah County chair's deadline for filing is still over five months away. But the race to succeed Deborah Kafoury as the countys chief executive already looks to be one of the more competitive races on a big-ticket ballot next year.

While the county chair race may not be as prominent as a mayoral election, Portland residents concerned about the regions approach to homelessness should monitor candidates views closely. While all levels of government are involved in the response, from funding for affordable housing to cleaning of camping sites, the county and in particular Kafoury - has been the most influential in shaping how tens of millions in local dollars are spent each year. Kafoury has repeatedly pushed for putting prioritizing expenditure that places or keeps people in housing over setting up additional shelters for those living on the streets.

The long-term solution is certainly permanent housing. However, the number of people living on the streets, on trails, and in parks appears to have risen amid the epidemic and ongoing housing shortage, making it increasingly evident that the region has not invested enough in temporary housing. While the city and county are considering adding alternative shelters, the demand far exceeds the anticipated supply. Thousands of people will be left on the streets for another winter.

With millions more in new tax revenues available, the next county chair must come with a clear vision for ending homelessness. Three sitting Multnomah County commissioners have been named to succeed Kafoury, who cannot run due to county term limits, as well as Sharon Meieran, an emergency medicine physician who represents the westside of Portland in District 1, Jessica Vega Pederson, a former legislator representing southeast Portland, in district 3; and Lori Stegmann, unemployed business owner representing outer east Portland and east Multennomih counties in districts 4 and 5. Shannon Singleton, who is Gov. Kate Browns equity and racial justice director, and who formerly headed the homeless services nonprofit JOIN, as well as Sharia Mayfield, an employment discrimination lawyer and adjunct law professor at Willamette University College of Law, are also in attendance.

We asked the candidates if they would change course based on the direction that Kafoury has promoted, reaffirm their support for permanent housing with a greater emphasis on temporary shelter, or merely sway in their direction.

Below are a few short bios of each of the candidates in alphabetical order. For full responses, go to or click on the candidate's name in the list below.

Sharia Mayfield Mayfeld is a fictional character who has appeared in numerous films. My 5-step plan to address the houseless crisis is data-based and results-oriented, with metrics to measure progress and accountability from the get-go...Count the homeless population and develop metrics that measure improvement and ensure accountability... Incentivize a county-run subleasing/lease/homeshare program (with free background checks for interested homeowners) to open up to 20,000+ rooms...Transform the unsheltered into rest villages, shelters, motels, and support mobile estates/safe parking, with access to sanitation services being critical...Incentive dozens of county agencies to develop sub-landing/laying/housesharing programs, including requiring homeowners to complete background screenings for prospective homeowners...Extension of the sheltered to rest Ramp up mental health response and MultCo Street Response teams to respond to mental illness crises, while expanding behavioral resource centers...Promote clean-up through adopt-a-block programs and long-term litter/biohazard prevention as we implement alternative shelter solutions.

Sharon Meieran is a member of Sharon's Metieran Advisory Committee. : I have proposed a continuum of alternative places for people to live with basic hygiene, toilets, and garbage collection, that includes small campsites and larger self-governed and sanctioned villages, as well as supported parking lots... Residents can expect he/she has outlined . A clear plan and timeline for addressing unsheltered homelessness and implementing the Metro Supportive Housing Services measure will be revealed. They'll see a public-facing dashboard with useful statistics that tell them how much we've spent and how fast we are moving toward achieving defined goals. They will also see a distinct emphasis on mental health and substance abuse issues affecting people living outside. They will be served by a policy-making body and governing structure that have clearly defined leadership, roles, responsibilities, and accountability. They will see coordination between fragmented and unorganized systems. And they will be able to see that the tragedy of people living unsheltered inside is being addressed with the urgency it deserves.

Shannon Singleton is a member of Shannon's 'Sincerely' club. : We have failed to adapt our regional approach to meet the urgency and acuteness of the need in recent years, further deepening what was already a crisis before the pandemic...Id use some of these funds to provide long-term rent assistance (like vouchers) and move people from the streets, temporary shelters, and transitional recovery housing into apartments. We must expand services to shelters, safe rest sites, temporary villages, etc. by providing housing for youth aging out of foster care and other institutional settings... We need to work with our state legislators to increase money for this long-term rent assistance program to assist people on fixed incomes.

Lori Stegmann, Loris Steggmann As Chair, I will work on a collaborative and whole systems approach that starts with safe shelter and services and then moves onto permanent housing. That continuum must include access to counseling and treatment for health or addiction issues, as well as education and training options, job placement, and even business development support. We have a better chance to leverage our resources and recognize the humanity of the crisis by stabilizing people in the short-term and achieving permanent long- term supportive housing... We must expand capacity in services like Portland Street Response, and Hygiene4All, as well as highly focused navigation outreach. For communities with high-impact camping, we must provide trash removal and regular sanitation services that aren't displacement sweeps but increase the livability for everyone, housed or unhoused, who lives in the area. In situations where camp disbursement is necessary for safety reasons, we must do that through intensive service delivery and alternative shelter options, which includes increasing the number of alternative and permanent supportive housing options.

Jessica Vega Pederson is a Latino-American author. : Houselessness is a long-term problem in Multnomah County, made worse by the epidemic. It is critical that immediate action be taken to address the humanitarian crisis that is sweeping the globe.

That means assisting in the location and expansion of safe rest villages in our community, as well as acquiring additional hotels to use immediately and often at a reduced cost, to help us establish and maintain safe sleep communities throughout our region. It includes expanding our mental health and addiction services and working with the city to improve trash pickup and police response.

As a sign of our commitment to making progress, we must meet monthly with the mayor, county chair, and other partners to ensure that we are able to work together. It also means being results-driven and accountable: creating a new database to track real-time shelter, housing, and safe rest site availability.

Voters invested in three measures to create affordable housing and provide support services, all of which were well-funded. Our community deserves an innovative, impactful use of those dollars and a strong, transparent leadership to deliver on their promise. Im the only candidate in this race who has a proven track record of bringing people together to get big things done at the state and local level.

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