portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements portland metro

health | social services | youth

Rally at County Commissioners meeting Thursday to protest budget cuts

County Commissioners meeting
Thursday, June 12
501 SE Hawthorne
Rally at 9 a.m., meeting starts at 9:30
Social Service Workers Say No to Budget Cuts

Please attend our rally, sponsored by IWW and Portland Survival.

County Commissioners meeting
Thursday, June 12
501 SE Hawthorne
Rally at 9 a.m., meeting starts at 9:30

Social service workers from several local workplaces
are telling the county they refuse the budget cuts being
forced on their shops. Despite the voters passing Measure
26-48, many social services are actually facing more budget
cuts. Specifically, Janus Youth Services just announced to
its employees that the county is cutting $159,000, a fifth of
their budget.

At 9:30 AM, the County Commissioners will begin the first
round of meetings to decide Multnomah County's budget.
Workers will be presenting demands to the Commission in hopes
to restore their services. "Because many social services in
Portland are county funded, we are asking the County
Commissioners to restore basic services for the county's
youth, and other essential social services", said an employee
from Janus Youth Services. The final Commission meeting for
Multnomah County budget will be next Thursday, June 12th at
9:30 am.

The following is a statement prepared by local workers to
read to the County Commissioners:

Due to budget cuts slated to go into effect July 1, 2003,
workers of the social service industry would like to make
visible the impact this loss of money will have on the
Homeless Youth Continuum, particularly the Willamette Bridge
Programs, in Portland, Oregon.

First and foremost, the impact on our clients is our top
concern. The primary duties of our programs are to provide
basic needs such as food, hygiene and shelter. However, we
are also a safe haven from an often violent and dangerous
street culture. Our program has established a credible level
of stability and positive adult interaction that is otherwise
mostly absent from our clients' lives. These provisions
deter our clients from crime as well as provide a foundation
upon which they can receive encouragement to better their
situation. Our atmosphere of respect for the individual has
also allowed many marginalized people (sexual minorities, sex
workers, drug abusers) to feel comfortable seeking services
that would be denied to them at many other shelters in this
city. For example, since the onset of January 2003 budget
cuts, two of our clients have been murdered. We believe that
there is a direct correlation between the loss of essential
services and their deaths.

As role models we've created positive rapports with many
clients, as we've ultimately earned their trust by
maintaining their safety and needs. But an unprepared
homeless youth will only become a homeless adult, and
budget cuts jeopardize any chance of our program ever
offering the needed life skills components (such as resume
tutorials, job training, budgeting workshops, etc.) that
would allow the youth to make the choices necessary to
place themselves in a better environment.

Furthermore, decreasing our funding disturbs an already
delicate staff to client ratio (1:15), which in turn
increases concerns over safety issues; it destroys our
infrastructure, and in turn effects the trust clients have
in the program; it creates job insecurity; it induces high
levels of stress as workloads increase. Essentially, it
makes it impossible to continue to provide a consistent
level of care.

Finally, eliminating this financial "burden" will create
problems elsewhere in the city. Responsibilities will
only be shifted to police forces and other agencies that
are inappropriate to deal productively with these

To help alleviate these concerns we are issuing the following

1. The County mandates under-funded a certain level of
services for our clients. They deserve financial stability in
their programs for at least one year. We propose that 5% of the
tobacco settlement money be reprioritized to provide for not only
Willamette Bridge Programs, but also the countless other social
programs being decimated due to cuts.

2. Funding restoration and no job loss for Greenhouse
employees. Any employees laid off as a result of these demands
not being met are to be made a priority for re-hire within the
Homeless Youth Continuum as positions open.

3. We view the budget cuts not only as a blow to our clients,
but also as an attack on the union recognition campaign currently
underway at Greenhouse. We demand the right to bargain
collectively over our wages, hours and working conditions.

4. An open book and budget policy. We want to see how county
and private money is allocated in our programs.

In closing, we are offering an open invitation to County
Commissioners to experience our work firsthand. Please take the
time to shadow one of our workers for a few hours so you can
witness our program and meet the clientele. Perhaps you will
have a greater understanding of our position when you see
services that will be taken away.

Thank you for your time.

homepage: homepage: http://www.portlandsurvival.org

img 10.Jun.2003 16:48