Local government

Officials hope emergency declaration will bring in funding to address homelessness

VALE – Malheur County officials hope a recently signed emergency declaration will lead to funding from the state to address the local homeless challenge.
The Malheur County Court approved the emergency declaration, Wednesday, March 8.
According to the resolution, “the Malheur County Court recognizes that local resources have been exhausted to determine that extraordinary measures, authorized by law, must be taken by our emergency services to secure and protect the persons and property of Malheur County.”
The declaration could push the county into a line to receive state money.
A count conducted in January found 266 unsheltered people in Malheur County.
Rich Harriman, Malheur County Emergency Services director, told the court the state is crafting “some plans and funding” to distribute to counties where homelessness is endemic.
“It was recommended we get our declaration in because very soon they will talk about the dispersal of funds,” Harriman told the court.
Now, the declaration will be sent to the Oregon Emergency Management Department and then to the governor’s office.
Harriman said there was no plan on how the county could use the money.
“It could mean preventing eviction, helping folks if they are behind on their rent,” said Harriman.
Tom Vialpando, Vale mayor, told the court that the emergency declaration ensures the county will not be left out of any state funding.
“This is getting our name out there,” said Vialpando.
In early January Gov. Tina Kotek issued an executive order and announced an ambitious plan to address homelessness in Oregon. She followed up with more details on her plan later in the month that included prompting the Legislature to spend $130 million to create more beds for the unhoused and help homeless find shelter.
Vialpando said he believes cities within the county should band together to develop a common plan to address the homeless challenge “so we are not just kicking the can to each other.”
A homeless count conducted by an array of different agencies in January showed there are about 266 unsheltered people in Malheur County.

News tip? Contact Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Volunteers, agencies in Malheur County unite to collect homeless tally

Homeless count effort tallies 266 unhoused in Malheur County

Valley Health vies for homeless planning grant
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