By State Representative Rob Nosse
Some of you know I am a member of the Ways and Means Committee and the Co-Chair of the Health and Human services Subcommittee. Ways and Means is budget and money allocations in state government speak.
As we get ready to end the session at the end of June, much of my time is focused on conversations about our state’s budget and how to distribute funds from President Biden’s COVID-19 Stimulus package – the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
One way some of the federal ARPA funds are being distributed is through local community investments. Each State Representative had a budget of $2 million and can submit proposals to support local priorities. I thought I would share the projects I am supporting and bit more information about the organizations and the work they do.
The first investment I proposed was in coordination with Senators Jama and Frederick and Representative Bynum. The entire Board of Directors of Portland Business Alliance is making a three-year financial commitment to build a plan focused on transparent and positive outcomes to grow prosperity for Black economic resilience in businesses located across the greater Portland region.
This project required seed funding from public and private sources and will measure its success on four factors:
1. The creation of intergenerational wealth improvements
2. Jobs and business growth
3. Increase in philanthropic investment
4. Expansion of our tax base for Black residents in the greater Portland region
I am excited about this project and what it could mean for Black entrepreneurs and businesses.
The second investment I proposed was with Representative Maxine Dexter to help fund Central City Concern’s second Peer Respite Center which is part of their Recuperative Care Program (RCP).
The RCP provides post-hospitalization services for low-income and homeless individuals who need additional support for more complete recovery, and hopefully help to end a cycle of re-hospitalization, trauma and homelessness.
Since its inception in 2005, RCP has served thousands of individuals, with over 75 percent resolving their acute medical condition, over 95 percent engaging with a primary care provider upon program exit and over 60 percent transitioning into stable housing.
Building a second peer respite center will allow Central City Concern to continue this work.
The final investment I proposed was in tandem with Representative Lisa Reynolds to help Street Roots move to a new building. Street Roots publishes a weekly alternative newspaper sold by people experiencing homelessness and poverty to earn an income.
With this new building Street Roots will focus on more workforce development and expand ways for houseless people to earn income. They will also lease their old building in Old Town and are committed to investing in this neighborhood.
I believe these investments will help to improve our quality of life here in Inner SE Portland and prioritize our most vulnerable communities.
I want to mention one other proposal I am supporting.
As you may have seen in my Op-Ed in The Oregonian, Representative Valderrama and I are supporting a proposal allowing the state to use our one-time federal funds to issue checks of $1,000 to $2,000 to qualifying “essential workers”.
For the last 13 months amid a global pandemic, a national reckoning with racism and extreme wildfires, Oregon’s essential workers masked up, did their jobs and got us through all these emergencies. They kept services and essential retail running, hospitals staffed and the economy moving forward often at great risk to their own personal safety as well as their families’.
There has been little more than lip service to recognize their efforts and I think it is time for that to change.
Again, thanks to President Biden’s ARPA, our state Legislature has billions of dollars in one-time funds that we can use to jumpstart a recovery and invest in our future.
Among the many worthy ideas for how to spend this money, I believe we must prioritize essential work pay which is often low paid. Not only is it the right thing to do, but this new round of stimulus checks will improve our economy and make our recovery fair and equitable. We called these essential workers “heroes.” Let’s pay them and treat them like heroes.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned.