Media Room

REMARKS AS PREPARED

Governor Kate Brown
Housing Oregon Conference
September 19, 2019

Good afternoon everyone! 

Big thanks to Housing Oregon for inviting me to speak today. And Brian Hoop for his fearless leadership and for working with all the players to make housing a priority. Lastly of course, thanks to OHCS for supporting this conference.

I’m just delighted to be here today because I get to report on the tremendous progress we made this last legislative session on addressing Oregon’s housing crisis. We committed to significant investments that will help every family have a warm, safe, and dry place to call home. It’s really exciting to see how far we’ve come.

We kicked off session with a bold housing agenda, requesting a record $400 million investment so that every Oregonian — in our communities large and small — can achieve housing stability.

And I’m happy to report that we wrapped up session very close to that full package. Our state’s leadership agreed that housing is a top priority. We see that commitment reflected in the bills that I signed this summer.

Your presence here at this conference shows the incredible importance of partnership in tackling these issues. You make a difference in people’s lives every single day. 

Like Jesse. Jesse is a Veteran who was sleeping outside for over 12 years, battling PTSD.

It is this PTSD that has caused him to struggle to hold down a job and pay rent consistently. 

But through hard work by some of you, Jesse eventually moved into an apartment. The outreach worker was able to walk Jesse through the housing process to provide financial assistance, which helped pay his rent while they worked on getting his VA benefits restarted.  

Jesse is now living in affordable housing, can use his VA benefits to pay rent, and has even developed friendships with his neighbors.  

He recently told his worker that he is helping other people get settled when they move into his complex because he remembers how hard it was to return to being a part of a community.

Addressing our state’s housing crisis requires all hands on deck. Housing practitioners like yourselves are essential to the charge of ending homelessness. You do the important work to improve our urban and rural communities across the spectrum of housing-need.

We all know that no one single solution will address this crisis. That’s why the bills I signed this legislative session tackle the whole spectrum of challenges, from homelessness to stable rental housing, to increasing home ownership. 

And we know that these challenges are great for our under-served communities, our veterans, our communities of color, and our rural communities.

And while we focus on both long-term and short-term ways to house all Oregonians, we’re also working hard on the housing shortage — and that means supply, supply, supply.

Increasing supply is incredibly important. The resources OHCS will receive through their new budget will get us to the goal of tripling our pipeline, from bringing on 8,000 new affordable homes earlier this year to a goal of bringing on more than 25,000 in the next 5 years. 

We know what we need to do. Now, the real work begins! 

I challenge you to be bold with these new strategies, and to champion equity and diversity. 

This could be investing in contractors that are a minority women-owned businesses. But it is also could be designing processes or re-thinking existing programs to make them more accessible to our most vulnerable populations. The ones that have been most negatively impacted by the housing shortage.

Thank you so much for coming together to ensure that everyone has a place to call home. I very much look forward to working on the next steps with all of you. 

Thank you.