Dear Portlander,

As Willamette Week reported this afternoon, it takes an overall average of 5 years to get into local affordable subsidized housing. That is according to new data and analysis from Home Forward (Portland’s local housing authority), requested by my office.

These long wait times are not just unacceptable—they are deadly—particularly for our most vulnerable Portlanders suffering from untreated mental illness and drug addictions. We need more affordable housing, and we need to connect more homeless Portlanders to health services while they wait.

The Oregonian story above illustrates the growing challenges we are facing amid a string of violence and homicides toward homeless Portlanders.

It’s heartbreaking. We have to better serve those stuck on waiting lists for affordable housing, often waiting for years. Life on Portland’s housing waiting list while experiencing outdoor homelessness is brutal, needlessly deadly, and harmful. It does not have to be this way.

I agree with the majority of Portlanders in saying that the current way we are managing this crisis, the ‘status quo,’ is not working. We need more affordable housing. We need to connect vulnerable Portlanders, especially those living on the streets, with sanitary, mental health and behavioral health services. And we must approach this problem with compassion.

Within the coming days I will be announcing a multi-faceted plan to help vulnerable Portlanders. I have spent the past few weeks meeting with partners and stakeholders in both the private and public sector to gain their input and feedback on my upcoming announcement.

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