Portland/ Politics & Govt
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Published on February 26, 2024
Multnomah County Chair Advocates for $25M Investment in Alternative Drug Treatment ProgramsSource: Multnomah County

In a move to revamp the state's approach to drug possession and treatment, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson has put her support behind a collaborative effort to bolster Oregon's Measure 110. Vega Pederson, along with other local officials, is calling on additional funding to establish evidence-based programs that present alternative pathways to treatment and care, rather than the criminal justice system, for substance users, according to Multnomah County.

The commitment aims to rally counties, health networks, and law enforcement agencies among others, in creating these programs. In this collective stride, the Chair has emphasized the necessity for a $25 million investment dedicated to constructing a drop-off and deflection center—a venture jointly backed by Multnomah County and the City of Portland.

Vega Pederson, who signed the commitment on February 23rd, is pushing for swift legislative action to quicken the pulse of critical funding and infrastructure. Oregon's lack of adequate resources is a major stumbling block for Measure 110's success. "I am asking the Legislature now to help fix that, and deliver critical funding and infrastructure quickly," Vega Pederson stated, as per Multnomah County.

Aligning closely with social equity concerns, the Chair has made it clear that the enforcement of drug-related offenses oftentimes disproportionately impacts marginalized groups, particularly BIPOC communities and those experiencing homelessness. Measures are to be implemented with a keen awareness of these disparities, aiming to channel more resources into areas where they are most needed. "We will implement any reform with that top of mind. We must bring increased resources to BIPOC communities and people experiencing homelessness so that the treatment and care for these individuals is there when they need it," Vega Pederson echoed in her commitment.