House America Proclamation Approved in Washington County
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 04, 2022
Washington County Board of Commissioners Approves House America Proclamation, Affirming Commitment of Affordable Housing
To address the homelessness crisis, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) developed the House America initiative. House America is a federal effort to decrease homelessness by re-housing families and individuals into stable, affordable housing and by creating new units of affordable and supportive housing to serve people experiencing homelessness.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners joined the House America initiative during their meeting on January 4, 2022. Washington County is the first jurisdiction in Oregon to commit to this initiative.
Washington County Board Chair Kathryn Harrington said, “House America is an important initiative given the rise in homelessness we have witnessed in our community. There is no one size fits all solution as we work to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness, but I am hopeful seeing the many programs we at Washington County have implemented and will continue to implement to address this crisis.”
“Housing is a human right and it’s a national crisis that more than 580,000 people are experiencing homelessness across the country,” said Senator Ron Wyden, who has introduced the Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All (DASH) Act to reduce homelessness, tackle the housing affordability crisis and expand homeownership opportunities for young people. “This crisis requires regional solutions and I’m gratified that Washington County will be receiving hundreds of new housing vouchers to help Oregonians without a home get a roof over their head and a floor under their feet.”
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici shared, “As winter sets in, I continue to think about the thousands of Oregonians and Americans experiencing homelessness. Finding a solution to the lack of affordable, accessible housing will take collaboration across all levels of government and the private sector. At the federal level, I’m committed to advocating for increased resources to help these families and individuals. Thank you to Washington County for joining the House America program, a partnership that will help get more residents into homes. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in solving this crisis.”
Washington County Department of Housing Services director Komi Kalevor shared, “Federal partnerships are key to our work. We continue to administer federal programs to serve people experiencing homelessness with housing and with wrap-around case management support.”
Prior to the start of the pandemic the Washington County Department of Housing Services operated 270 housing vouchers specifically for families, individuals and veterans experiencing homelessness in the form of vouchers from HUD’s Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) and Mainstream vouchers. Thanks to recent federal funds including the new HUD Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) program, the department has successfully increased their voucher capacity for households experiencing homelessness by over 70% for a total of 464 housing vouchers for the most vulnerable members of our community with the most complex barriers to housing. At this time, over 95% of these vouchers have been issued to families in need, but Washington County closely aligns these programs with the Regional Supportive Housing Services measure that is bringing much needed rental assistance and housing case management resources. In the spring of 2022, the Department of Housing Services also will receive 50 more vouchers specifically for veterans experiencing homelessness.
Washington County is moving forward with aggressive goals on reducing homelessness over the upcoming years by creating 250 year-round shelter beds, helping over 1,600 chronically homeless individuals find housing and introducing services to prevent homelessness. Washington County is centering equity in all this work as communities of color are experiencing homelessness disproportionately throughout our region and state. Since July 2021, Washington County has funded over 100 “bridge” shelter beds in our community, partnering with culturally specific and culturally responsive shelter operators. These shelters combine case management, extensive services, and stable shelter for roughly 120 days to help our most vulnerable community members transition into permanent, stable housing with ongoing support and rent assistance.
On September 20th, 2021, HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge announced House America, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), states and communities to respond with urgency to address the crisis of homelessness. The House America initiative calls on state and local leaders to set ambitious goals to re-house households experiencing homelessness and to develop new supportive and affordable housing units.
The Washington County Department of Housing Services was formed in 1992 to administer housing activities and programs of the county and the Washington County Housing Authority. The mission of the Department of Housing Services is to provide a continuum of affordable housing options that promotes community strength. The department offers rental assistance to low-income households through various federally funded programs, creates affordable housing opportunities in the community for low- and moderate-income households through a combination of creative financing and partnerships with public and private entities and administers programs to address homelessness including A Road Home: Washington County’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness and the new Supportive Housing Services program.
Media Contact:Emily Roots, Public Affairs Administrator