Legislature Proposes to Raid Community Mental Health Housing Trust Fund

From NAMI Oregon via Disability Rights Oregon

The Co-Chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee want to raid the Community Mental Health Housing Trust Fund of $5.8 million — half of the fund — to balance this year’s budget. The interest generated from this crucial Trust Fund has led to the development of new housing and supported housing across Oregon for those living with severe mental illness. (See background information below).

We need your help to deliver a simple message: Put the Trust Back in the Community Mental Health Housing Trust Fund!

Let Co-Chairs Rep. Dennis Richardson, Rep. Peter Buckley and Sen. Richard Devlin know that it is their ethical obligation to preserve the Trust Fund for its promised purpose — to provide new housing for individuals living with severe mental illness. Without the Trust Fund, Oregon has no dedicated funds for community-based housing.

The state made a promise to the people of Oregon. Please consider sending an email or calling Rep. Richardson, Rep. Buckley and Sen. Devlin and other members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee to ensure they fulfill that promise!

Joint Ways and Means Co-Chairs

Rep. Dennis Richardson, Co-Chair
503-986-1404
Email: rep.dennisrichardson@state.or.us

Rep. Peter Buckley, Co-Chair
503-986-1405
Email: rep.peterbuckley@state.or.us

Sen. Richard Devlin, Co-Chair
503-986-1719
Email: sen.richarddevlin@state.or.us

Committee Members

Rep. E. Terry Beyer
503-986-1412
Email: rep.terrybeyer@state.or.us

Rep. Jean Cowan
503-986-1410
Email: rep.jeancowan@state.or.us

Rep. Tim Freeman
503-986-1402
Email: rep.timfreeman@state.or.us

Rep. Bill Garrard
503-986-1456
Email: rep.billgarrard@state.or.us

Rep. Betty Komp
503-986-1422
Email: rep.bettykomp@state.or.us

Rep. Mike McLane
503-986-1455
Email: rep.mikemclane@state.or.us

Rep. Nancy Nathanson
503-986-1413
Email: rep.nancynathanson@state.or.us

Rep. Mary Nolan
503-986-1436
Email: rep.marynolan@state.or.us

Rep. Tobias Read
503-986-1427
Email: rep.tobiasread@state.or.us

Rep. Greg Smith
503-986-1457
Email: rep.gregsmith@state.or.us

Rep. Kim Thatcher
503-986-1425
Email: rep.kimthatcher@state.or.us

Rep. Gene Whisnant
503-986-1453
Email: rep.genewhisnant@state.or.us

Sen. Alan Bates
503-986-1703
Email: sen.alanbates@state.or.us

Sen. Chris Edwards
503-986-1707
Email: sen.chrisedwards@state.or.us

Sen. Fred Girod
503-986-1709
Email: sen.fredgirod@state.or.us

Sen. Betsy Johnson
503-986-1716
Email: sen.betsyjohnson@state.or.us

Sen. Rod Monroe
503-986-1724
Email: sen.rodmonroe@state.or.us

Sen. David Nelson
503-986-1729
Email: sen.davidnelson@state.or.us

Sen. Chuck Thomsen
503-986-1726
Email: sen.chuckthomsen@state.or.us

Sen. Joanne Verger
503-986-1705
Email: sen.joanneverger@state.or.us

Sen. Doug Whitsett
503-986-1728
Email: sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us

Sen. Jackie Winters
503-986-1710
Email: sen.jackiewinters@state.or.us

Background

The Legislature created the Community Mental Health Housing Trust Fund in 1999 to ensure that proceeds from the sale of Dammasch State Hospital were used to develop community-based housing across Oregon. Dammasch closed in 1995, which led to an even greater shortage of housing for individuals living with severe mental illness.

The Trust Fund was established so that resources would be available to expand Oregon’s community-based housing. Under state law, the Fund’s principal cannot be touched, and interest income is to be spent on developing community-based housing. A portion also may be spent on “institutional housing,” such as improvements to the Oregon State Hospital.

By one estimate, the Trust Fund has created more than $5 million in community housing for individuals living with severe mental illness. Even more private dollars have been invested as each Trust Fund dollar is leveraged to create more investment.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee is proposing to change state law so they may raid the Trust Fund of $5.8 million, or half of the Trust Fund’s $12 million in assets. There are no guarantees that the Fund will ever be replenished.

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