With the 2020 Oregon legislative session set to begin on Feb. 3, our public policy team is hitting the ground running with a bold set of policy priorities rooted in our belief that ending homelessness requires a coordinated approach to address housing access, health and well-being, economic resiliency and social connectedness. Our policy advocacy work in 2020 is guided by the following goals:
- Prioritizing an integrated approach across systems, funders and delivery points.
- Supporting policy initiatives that center people with lived experience.
- Recognizing a sustainable and skilled workforce is the foundation of successful interventions.
- Seeking solution-oriented advocacy efforts that adequately fund the programs and solutions that are effective in ending homelessness and addressing poverty.
The 2020 public policy agenda was developed after a review of last year’s activities and interviews with staff, clients and former clients. These conversations helped us better understand the challenges people face on the path toward self-sufficiency, as well as the successful interventions that should be scaled for greater impact.
Housing was the number one issue facing people in 2019 and the same is true going into 2020. The problem isn’t that we don’t know how to address homelessness, the problem is our systems were built for far fewer people than the number that are in need of services. In 2020, we will look at how to make the deep investments needed to change the course on the housing affordability crisis. We know housing paired with rent assistance and support services create the foundation that sets people up for success. Locally, we can make a bigger impact through deep investments in specific key areas, such as permanent supportive housing and stabilizing recovery housing.
In 2020 we are bringing a more integrated approach to our advocacy around health care. While in 2019, we had separate policy focus areas for recovery and health care services, this year we are following the lead of our clinicians by fully integrating health care. Our advocacy around mental health, physical health, substance use disorder treatment and long term recovery will be a collective call for improved access, quality and connectedness. When we talk to our government partners, we will not talk about health in pieces, but rather as a complete unit of care able to meet the diversity of people’s needs.
In 2019, we had a policy focus looking at stabilization, but after a year of work and more input from our community it is clear that we need to be striving for more than just stability. Stability is a first step to the longer road of social and economic opportunity, both for the people we serve and for our workforce. The incredible champions we have working at Central City Concern and other service organizations deserve to be valued by the systems we work under, and in 2020 we will be advocating for workforce investments while at the same time advocating for the people we serve.
A few of the specific things we will be advocating for:
- HB 4002: Statewide housing rent assistance program to help people and families experiencing homelessness afford housing
- SB 1153: Co-occurring disorder treatment reforms to better integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment
- HB 4067: Creating more affordable utility rates for low-income households
- 1115 Medicaid Waiver to include funding for recovery support in community and in housing
- More funding for supportive services in affordable housing, especially including education, training and employment support
- Prioritizing people existing institutional settings like state hospital, incarceration and in-patient treatment for supportive housing placement
- Equitable Transit Oriented Development that includes deeply affordable housing, open space and commercial space for community based organizations
We hope you’ll join us in supporting policies and investments that will bolster our work to bring greater integration and support for our neighbors experiencing and exiting homelessness. Check in on our Advocacy and Public Policy page to learn more about how you can get involved.