New Bill Seeks to Alleviate Oregon’s Homelessness Issue

Statewide Funding Geared Towards Building Shelters  

At last year’s homelessness CitySpeak forum, many questions were raised about the potential of building more homeless shelters around Corvallis. Answers mainly brought up issues of funding, zoning, and a bevy of other legal issues. House Bill 4001, championed by House Speaker Tina Kotek, seeks to answer some of these questions.  

Designed specifically to streamline and add funding to the process of building homelessness shelters, HB 4001 would be a one-time payout to local governments and nonprofits in order to enable the construction of homeless shelters. In anticipation of high tax collections, Kotek is proposing $60 million in competitive grants be made available, if the bill passes.   

THERE IS OPPOSITION: The bill would require local governments to waive zoning restrictions that would prevent certain properties from being sited as shelters.  

There are concerns about HB 4001 taking control away from local governments, and Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp has stated that the bill’s language regarding siting may lead to shelters being built in rural areas outside of urban growth zones, leading to what he called “centralized, rural low-income zones,” without ready access to basic amenities, like medical care and government offices.    

Many of these concerns echoed those brought up at last year’s homelessness CitySpeak; take the controversy around the First Congregational United Church of Christ’s homeless camp in the West Hills neighborhood, for example.  

KOTEK MAY AMEND THE BILL: Kotek hopes to address the potential flaws in HB 4001 and is currently working to amend them.    

“We’re trying to really take an emergency mindset to the thousands and thousands of Oregonians who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness,” said Kotek.  

Kotek hopes to address the potential flaws in HB 4001 and is currently working to amend them.   

By Thomas Nguyen