The Oregon Legislative Assembly is considering a bill to provide a universal basic income for the homeless community.

The legislation, SB603, would provide 12 monthly payments of $1,000 to people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.

“Payments may be used for rent, emergency expenses, food, child care, or other goods or services of the participant’s choosing,” the bill states (pdf).

People who spend more than 50 percent of their monthly household income on rent and those who earn 60 percent or less of the area median income would also be eligible for the funding.

The bill would require a study on who is receiving the money, broken down by demographics of race, veteran status, and risk of domestic violence.

The program would last until January 2026, at which time the study would be due for presentation, the bill states.

“Rental assistance is not as readily available as we would like it to be, and I say that as someone who has worked as a case manager in the space to get folks into housing,” state Sen. Wlnsvey Campos, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in the Senate chamber.

The Oregon House also recently passed two bills to address the state’s homelessness crisis and housing shortage, HB 2001 and HB 5019. If the bills pass in the Senate, Gov. Tina Kotek is expected to sign them.

The two House bills will allocate $200 million to help homeless residents move into houses and will extend the eviction period notice for people who have fallen behind on rent.

In Oregon, there are an estimated 18,000 homeless people, and the state doesn’t have enough housing to keep up with its growing population, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reported.

“This is a decades-long deficit that won’t be fixed in one year,” said state Rep. Maxine Dexter, chair of the Oregon House’s housing committee. “We have much work to do.”

California Housing Laws

California has also implemented policies aimed at reducing homelessness.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is pursuing a plan to build 1,200 tiny homes for people living on the streets, with the goal of reducing the homeless population by 15 percent in two years.

In Los Angeles, where skid row is located, newly elected Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency in the City of Los Angeles on Dec. 12, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors pledged a week later to support those efforts.

On Jan. 10, the board went further, declaring a countywide state of emergency.

The Los Angeles City Council also recently approved new renter protections, permanently codifying temporary laws originally intended to help renters financially hit by the pandemic to stay afloat.

Landlords are now required to pay tenants’ relocation fees if they increase rent by more than 10 percent or 5 percent plus inflation, an additional financial burden that could make it difficult for landlords to stay afloat.

Already in effect are provisions that allow tenants behind on rent to stay in their apartments for a month, unless they owe more than one month’s worth of fair market rent.

Another measure created a deadline for paying back unpaid rent.

Jamie Joseph contributed to this report.

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