Portland, Oregon — For Portland’s struggling homeless population, the city’s city manager, David Zavala, has been struggling to make sense of what’s happening in the city, and why.
Zavallas latest attempt at solving the homelessness problem has been to hire a new social services czar to focus on addressing the citys housing crisis, a move that could help the city avoid losing its mayor as a result of a state audit.
On Monday, Zavalas executive director, Scott Richey, released a statement announcing the appointment of Zavallo to the position of city social services coordinator, and also announcing a new task force to study the cityís homelessness problems.
The task force is headed by former Portland mayor Charlie Hales, who served as city social service coordinator under Zavalls predecessor, Tom Stevens.
Zavellas new job comes just weeks after Zavalla made a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump has called for an end to the use of federal funds to assist with homelessness, and is currently embroiled in a feud with the Democratic National Committee, which is suing the president for refusing to provide more money for his inauguration festivities.
After Trump signed an executive order last month requiring that all federal funds be used for housing, homeless advocates said it was a step in the right direction.
“This is a great step forward to see a city executive lead a social services effort that focuses on addressing homelessness and addressing homelessness-related issues in our city,” said David Guralnick, president of Portland-based Center for Law and Policy.
“It is also a step toward more federal dollars for our city.”
According to the Washington Post, the task force would be tasked with researching “the causes of homelessness in our region, its causes, the types of programs that are successful, and the impact of those programs.”
The report, if implemented, would help inform policy decisions about how to better address the homeless population in the future.
Zavalla has been a fixture in the Portland community for years, having worked for Portland’s Public Housing Authority, where he was the director of public housing and oversaw programs for low-income families.
Zaves predecessor as mayor, Tom Steyer, served for seven years as a Portland city commissioner and served as chairman of the city council.
Richey said Zavalli was appointed by Stevens in order to “take a holistic look at how to improve the services and the facilities available to Portlanders and to ensure that the city can continue to provide them.”
“It’s not enough to focus just on providing people with basic needs,” he said.
“We also have to look at the needs of our entire city, not just the homeless.”
Zavellos appointment comes after Zaveras recent trip to the U.S.A., where the mayor met with the president and Vice-President Mike Pence and discussed how to address the city.
Last week, Zavera met with Gov.
Kate Brown to discuss the city´s homelessness issues.
Since the announcement of the appointment, the Oregon State Office of Community Development has released a new report that found that Portland has the highest rate of homelessness of any U.N. city.
The report said the city had an estimated 40,000 homeless people, but had only 8,000 shelter beds and about 2,500 social service providers.
With the number of homeless people estimated to be more than three times the population of Portland, the state office said the state of Oregon would have to spend nearly $2 billion to address Portland´s homeless crisis.
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