Wheeler: Homeless budget could be cut for other needs

The city has had a $26 million budget to address homeless and housing issues

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler indicated budget cuts for the city's homelessness problem (KOIN).
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler indicated budget cuts for the city's homelessness problem (KOIN).

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than 8,500 people who were homeless in Portland got help from shelters last year and more than 4,800 were helped out of homelessness, according to the Joint Office of Homeless. 

Commissioner Nick Fish called Portland's housing issue the No. 1 challenge (KOIN).
Commissioner Nick Fish called Portland’s housing issue the No. 1 challenge (KOIN).

The housing and homelessness issues are something the city has poured money into, but the $26 million the city is currently spending might not last much longer. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler indicated that budget could be lessened to help out other city needs.

“We have to balance all competing interests with the reality that we’re not always going to be flushed with cash,” Wheeler said.

Currently, the city has gained more tax money than expected due to a booming economy and other factors. Wheeler thinks the city can’t count on an increase in money every year.

“Current service level is not a guarantee of future funding,” Wheeler said.

City Commissioner Nick Fish, on the contrary, thinks the booming economy is a great time to invest money in the housing crisis, something he called Portland’s “No. 1 challenge.”

“I’m going to put on the table that we should take as much of this one-time money and make it sustainable,” Fish said, “because I think the (Joint Office of Homeless Services) is saving lives.”

The city said it plans to unveil how they would use that money differently.

Portland’s homeless by the numbers:
In shelters: 8,532
Got housing: 4,889
Prevented from becoming homeless: 6,134