Portland City Hall in August 2020, when dozens of protesters vowed to remain until the city met their demands for services to people experiencing homelessness. (Portland Phoenix/Cam Jones)
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The Portland City Council approved nearly $13 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act at their Nov. 21 meeting.

Of those funds, nearly $5 million went into the Jill Duson Housing Trust Fund, a city program that seeks to promote, retain and create housing, especially affordable housing. The fund is available through a competitive allocation process which must be approved by both the Housing Committee and council. 

Funding was also allocated to several other places, including $1 million for addiction programs run by MaineHealth, a non-profit health care network, $750,000 for mental health recovery programs operated by the nonprofit behavioral health group Spurwink Services, and $500,000 to city-run health care programs for people experiencing homelessness.

This was the latest of the $46 million investment the federal government made towards Portland under the ARPA program.

The order passed with three amendments, all of which used funds that had been anticipated for the housing trust fund. The first, from Councilor Victoria Pelletier, allocated $490,000 for Community Dental, a nonprofit public health dental network that partners with providers and social service organizations to provide services to those in need. That amendment passed 7-2, with Mayor Kate Snyder and Councilor Tae Chong opposed.

The second amendment, from Councilor Andrew Zarro, allocated $200,000 towards the Electrify Everything program, a city initiative launched in 2022 in partnership with solar-based ReVision Energy that aims to reduce energy costs and fossil-fuel dependency. It would be available to low-to moderate-income homeowners at 80-percent area median income to winterize their homes. That amendment passed 8-1, with Chong opposed.

The third amendment, from Councilor April Fournier, also passed 8-1 with Chong opposed. Her amendment allocated $200,000 for Project HOME from the Quality Housing Coalition, a nonprofit network of landlords and social service agencies that aims to combat homelessness.

 

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