Oregon lawmakers look to buy hotels to house homeless during coronavirus pandemic

by Kellee Azar, KATU News

FULL ARTICLE & VIDEO

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) — Oregon’s homeless crisis is visible almost anywhere in the state, and two representatives are trying to change that.

The pandemic has led to more on the streets, and the houseless crisis was only made worse by the devastating fires in Oregon.

With Winter fast approaching, Representative Pam Marsh along with Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer want to help get secure shelters for those who need it.

“The emergency board of the legislature is meeting, and we’ll be considering our $65 million request for it to use, uh, general fund dollars,” Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer said.

That $65 million would be used to buy up hotel and motel property.

“We know that the current COVID crisis has been a hit on tourism. Some of these facilities are not doing well, maybe available on the market,” Rep. Pam Marsh said. “With COVID, we can’t provide shelter in the same, conventional way that we have in the past, which is basically to invite people, to throw a pad on the basement floor of a church.”

With hotels, both say it offers the ability to help people get on their feet permanently.

Not only do the rooms give them privacy, but also a setting more like living on their own, giving them something to work towards.

“We need to do this in a way that’s safe and we need to adopt much better practices in helping people to really move through homelessness and onto the next phase of their lives,” Marsh said.

On Friday, the emergency board of the legislature is meeting that’s where they could decide about giving $65 million out of the general fund.