2023 Legislative Wins: Housing, Behavioral Health, Education

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Rep. Pam Marsh

September 2023

Dear friends and neighbors,

Homelessness and housing issues are at or near the top of concerns in nearly every community across the state. With a deficit of 140,000 units, our housing stock is stretched thin. That tight market drives both rental and ownership markets, forcing Oregonians to spend an increasing share of their monthly income to simply maintain a roof over their heads. 

Recognizing the crisis, Governor Tina Kotek has set an ambitious housing production goal of 36,000 new homes per year. That will be a significant increase above current production, which sits at 18,000-20,000 units per year. The availability of housing is key to economic development, robust communities, and the ability of lower and middle-income families and individuals to afford life here. These are ambitious goals—but we have moral and economic imperatives to do what we must to address the current housing emergency.

This newsletter describes housing strategies initiated in the past session, along with investments in behavioral health, education, and childcare. Here in Jackson County, we know these issues are core to our ability to recruit a workforce, attract families, and stabilize and support our vulnerable residents.

As always, please contact me whenever I can be helpful. I’m honored to represent our southern Oregon community, and always grateful for your input.


Representative Pam Marsh

State Representative
Oregon House District 5 - Southern Jackson County

This is the third of three newsletters I am sending describing the work of the 2023 legislative session. The first two can be found here:

Bringing it Home: 2023 Legislative Wins for District 5 & Oregon

2023 Legislative Wins: Climate Resilience & Water Security Packages 

Quick Links to Session Wins and Media

Housing and Homelessness

Achieving our housing goals is going to require us to think differently and to try new things. To have any chance of achieving the Governor’s target of 36,000 housing units per year, we need to take bold, innovative action. In 2023 the legislature approved aggressive strategies to tackle Oregon's housing crisis: 



Affordable Housing and Emergency Homelessness Response Package
Early in the session the legislature approved a $200 million package to address homelessness, a bipartisan effort to respond to the housing crisis. The package allocates approximately $150 million to emergency development of shelters and provision of rent supports to people at risk of homelessness, and $50 million to specific housing programs, including those serving youth and agricultural workers.  Jackson County received approximately $9 million for new shelter beds and rent supports in the emergency package; that will be supplemented with additional funding to keep the program in place into 2025. 

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Investments to Boost the Housing Industry
In June, the legislature augmented the early session package by allocating another billion dollars in new housing funding. The bulk of this, $600 million, is bonding to support the development of new affordable housing. Funding will also support an array of housing programs, including preservation of existing affordable housing, first time homeownership support, manufactured home replacement, and foreclosure counseling. The package contains operational funding for the state’s shelter system, including Project Turnkey sites and navigation centers. 


Most housing will continue to be built with conventional brick and mortar construction, but the use of off-site production and the creative re-use of existing buildings can significantly contribute to our housing stock. Project Turnkey pioneered this concept through purchase and use of older hotels and similar buildings for shelter rooms and transitional housing. In 2022 the legislature initiated our investments in off-site production via a $15 million grant to St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County for development of a manufactured home factory. 

We furthered this work in 2023: 


Modular Development
Recognizing that we need to diversify the way we construct homes, House Bill 2001 allocates $20 million for low interest loans and/or grants to fund expansion or development of modular housing production facilities. Modular construction projects can be completed more quickly and with lower development costs than conventional ones because most of the work is executed and approved off-site. Modulars can be mass produced to provide backyard dwelling units, duplexes or other infill, or be stacked and attached to construct apartment complexes. Entities receiving state investments will be required to prioritize housing needed by state or local governments following a wildfire or other disaster—an effort to ensure that we have an immediate, steady supply of temporary or permanent units to house survivors and rebuild communities. 


Commercial Property Conversion to Housing
House Bill 2984 allows empty and underutilized commercial buildings of any kind to be repurposed for housing and, in the process, to transform lackluster commercial zones in cities with a population of 10,000+ into vibrant, multi-use neighborhoods—creating needed housing near shopping, work and recreational opportunities.


Building an adequate supply of housing will require that we streamline our permitting system to expedite development—holding local governments accountable, while also ensuring that they have tools to process and implement housing strategies.

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Creating Development Targets
House Bill 2001 sets housing development targets for cities with more than 10,000 residents, tracks production progress, and specifies corrective measures for communities not in compliance. To ensure that cities are fairly evaluated, the bill distinguishes factors outside a city’s control, such as land availability.


Removing Development Barriers
House Bill 3395 cuts barriers to affordable housing by allowing construction in commercial zones, streamlining the approval process and easing construction on land owned by public utilities. It expedites the siting of emergency shelters and single room occupancy housing. It also provides grants for local governments and economic development districts to support housing and community development capacity, and to amend comprehensive plans and land use regulations to allow for more “middle” (units located within existing neighborhoods) housing.

Behavioral Health and Addiction Response

States across the nation are grappling with spikes in drug-involved overdose deaths and accelerating rates of addiction. In response, here in Oregon, we passed new laws to expand access to behavioral health care and addiction treatment, lower response times and costs, bolster behavioral health workforces, and save lives. This is critical work that will continue in future sessions. 

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Opioid Harm Reduction - House Bills 2395 and Senate Bill 1043
Oregon’s fentanyl crisis demands that life-saving emergency treatments, like naloxone, be more available for quick access and administration to counter overdose deaths. House Bill 2395 clarifies that these medications can be stored in public buildings within reach of members of the public, such as restaurants, grocery stores and office buildings, and it specifies that law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services providers can distribute and administer these medications. 

SB 1043 requires health care facilities and drug treatment facilities to provide two doses of opioid overdose reversal medicine to patients when they are discharged from treatment related to opioid abuse, and it establishes civil liability protections for people who administer the medication to a person experiencing an overdose.

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9-8-8 Suicide Prevention & Behavioral Health Line - House Bill 2757
The new nationwide 9-8-8 telephone line was established to provide immediate assistance to individuals in crisis and considering suicide. This legislation ensures that Oregon’s 9-8-8 service has adequate funding so that callers from anywhere in the state can get the help they need at the moment of despair by providing a stable stream of funding via a new 40 cents monthly phone fee. Revenue exceeding the needs of 9-8-8 will be used to build Oregon's mobile crisis intervention services.

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Education and Safety - Senate Bill 238
This bill aims to help Oregon teens understand the potentially lethal risks posed by use of synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, by directing the Oregon Health Authority, the State Board of Education, and the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop education materials for teaching schoolchildren about the dangers of opioids, and to make sure they know that state laws protect people who report overdoses or seek treatment. 

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Behavioral Health Investments
To help ensure access to high-quality, affordable services, the legislature allocated $153 million to expand and improve the behavioral health system, including funding to strengthen the state’s behavioral health workforce, expand residential treatment and support response and recovery resources. 

Schools and Early Learning

Better than expected state revenues enabled the legislature to invest in the state’s youngest residents:

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Record K-12 School Funding - House Bill 5015
The state’s K-12 school districts will receive $10.2 billion to fund operations in the 2023-2025 biennium. This historic investment will support teacher salaries, textbooks, school supplies, building maintenance and other general needs. Funding ensures Oregon schools have the tools they need to set students and educators on a path for success.


Early Literacy Success Initiative - House Bill 3198
More than half of Oregon's third graders are struggling to read at grade level. Seventy five percent of students who are not proficient by third grade will never fully catch up, with later interventions both more costly and less effective. Investing in early literacy has long-term positive impacts on state graduation rates and dropout prevention. This legislation allocated $144 million to support research-aligned literacy instruction in classrooms, and to develop and expand early literacy supports for children from birth to age 5.


Strengthening Oregon’s Educator Workforce - Senate Bill 283
Key to student success is making sure educators have good salaries, healthy working conditions, and the resources they need to help children learn. SB 283 is a comprehensive bill to address teacher recruitment and retention by:

  • Creating a robust statewide educator workforce data system and regular surveys to improve collection, quality, and availability of data related to Oregon’s education workforce
  • Establishing a carve-out in the Statewide Education Initiatives Account for apprenticeship and mentorship grants to continue diversifying our education workforce
  • Ensuring that collective bargaining agreements include a 20% pay differential for teachers and classified staff who work in special education
  • Including pay for planning time and lunch periods in collective bargaining agreements when educators are assigned other responsibilities during those times
  • Addressing the issue of districts under-employing workers serving students with the highest needs by requiring a minimum of 25 hours per week and just cause protections for classified jobs
  • Making substitute teachers district employees with paid training
  • Allowing retired teachers to convert to substitute licenses at no charge
  • Allowing retired teachers to work full-time until 2029
  • Funding a public relations campaign promoting education as a profession

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Child Care Infrastructure Fund - House Bill 3005
Early learning and childcare are critical to child development and key to recruiting and maintaining our workforce, but Oregon communities across the state lack affordable, quality care. This bill creates a $50 million towards accessible child care by providing grants and loans to providers who wish to create or expand facilities.

In the News

For media coverage about legislation I’ve worked on this session, click HERE.

Attribution: All icon images included in this newsletter are credited to Freepik,

Contact Rep. Pam Marsh

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1405
District Phone: 541-282-4516
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-474, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.PamMarsh@oregonlegislature.gov
Website and e-Subscribe: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/marsh