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Lawmakers advance measure to create “community resilience hubs”

Person sitting on the floor, wearing winter clothes. Some water bottles are on the floor next to the person.
Jonathan Levinson
Trina Ragland sits in a Multnomah County warming shelter in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 23, 2023, the day after a snow storm blanketed the county in snow. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would offer grants to local communities to establish facilities that could serve as shelters in the event of an emergency.

Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would award grants to establish so-called “community resilience hubs.”

The hubs that would be funded by House Bill 2990 would be places for residents to turn to in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, and would be operated by local governments, nonprofits, schools or tribes.

"The key to building resilience to a disaster is actually thinking about preparedness beforehand," said Rep. Khanh Pham, D-Portland, who is one of the bill's chief sponsors. "Organized communities that have relationships are more resilient in the face of wildfires, heat domes, or whatever comes."

Supporters testified that the hubs would be designed by and for the communities they serve.

“This means that in some areas, they may offer a cool place during extreme heat, while others may provide emergency beds during wildfire evacuation, mental health services, or warmth and safety during power outages from freezing weather,” said Joel Iboa, executive director of the Oregon Just Transition Alliance.

The House Climate, Energy and Environment Committee advanced the bill this week on a bipartisan vote. It now heads to the legislature’s budget committee, where it will compete with dozens of other funding proposals.

In its current form, the bill does not specify the amount of grants that would be awarded each year.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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