While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to lead the economy to a standstill, progressive cities dealing with a large and growing homeless population are facing increasing pressure to help with budget deficits and declining or delayed tax revenues.
“Enterprises and households accumulate huge amounts of debt. You have people who don’t pay for an apartment and put off a mortgage, ”says Eric Fruits, research director at the Cascade Institute of Politics.
Given this backdrop, voters in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday will decide to approve taxes on personal income and business profits which over a decade would raise $ 2.5 billion for urban homelessness initiatives, according to Katu,
The vote was planned before the pandemic caused the US economy to break. Supporters, including many business leaders and large institutions, argue that taxes are needed now more than ever in a region that has long been overwhelmed by the problem of the homeless.
How voters in a liberal city respond to a pandemic will be instructive for other cities on the West Coast that are struggling to cope with a growing homeless population as other sources of income are depleted.It is believed that this measure was one of the first in the country to ask voters to open their wallets in the world after COVID-19. –Katu
Instead of housing, money will be spent on so-called “care services” to help with rent, vocational training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, as well as doing business and outreach.
“I think it really will give you an idea of how much people are concerned about the problem of homelessness as a problem – and what they are willing to pay to solve this problem,” said Marisa Sapata, head of the department of research and action in a homeless environment. Collaboration (HRAC) at Portland State University.
“We know that state budgets will be gutted, so what does this mean for additional revenue opportunities?” she added. “To whom can we turn to bear part of this responsibility and how will the voters react?”
According to HRAC, a wider area of Portland is home to about 40,000 people who have survived at least one period of homelessness, and 105,000 families who lack housing.
Those who oppose the $ 2.5 billion bill are shocked that the organizers continue to make efforts while the economy stalls and a large portion of Oregon’s population remains isolated.,
“People are disappointed. They have no work, they are angry, and the last thing they are thinking about is raising taxes, ”says Amanda Dalton, legislative director of the Northwest Food Association.
Voters in the three counties that make up Portland’s large metro area it will be proposed to consider the marginal income tax of 1% for the richest residents and at the rate of 1% of gross profit for the largest enterprises in the region.,
This measure will apply to individual applicants with taxable income of more than US $ 125,000 or to joint applicants with taxable income of more than US $ 200,000. For example, joint registrars earning $ 215,000 a year will be taxed at 1% of $ 15,000, or $ 150 a year. –Katu
About 90% of Portland residents and 94% of businesses will be tax free, says Angela Martin, director of the HereTogether campaign, the organization that created the measure.
According to the law, the Portland Business Alliance supports the bill, whose members have repeatedly pointed to homelessness as a “critical factor affecting its ability to expand and hire.” Portland Trail Blazers and other major sports franchises, as well as several local government leaders, also come in support measures.
Last week, Governor Kate Brown asked all government agencies to find a way to cut nearly 20% of their budgets, while the city of Portland expects revenue to fall by $ 75 million.