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As Lane County leaders plan for the new year, they look to continue efforts to prevent homelessness

Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr delivers the annual state of the county address.
Rebecca Hansen-White
Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr delivered the annual state of the county address on Jan. 8, 2024.

Lane County leaders are hoping 2024 will be the year pandemic-era emergency programs become longer-term parts of the region’s safety net.

During the annual State of the County address Monday, Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr said the county exceeded its homelessness prevention goal last year, helping more than 1,800 people stay housed.

In an interview with KLCC, he said coordination with cities within Lane County was key to that success.

“I really believe that what happened this year is a portent of what happened in the coming year, and years to come,” he said. “(It shows) how we'll work together to make the most of the resources.”

Farr said the county is discussing long-term funding with other governments and the governor’s office.

“A lot of times, you start a program with new money, and when the money's gone, the program goes away too,” he said. “But we don't want that, we want to sustain these programs into the future. That's the really exciting part, we believe that's going to happen.”

During the State of the County address, Farr also said leaders had also made strides in other areas, such as recruiting workers. He said the county had seen significantly more applicants than last year across several departments.

One of the areas that saw the largest impact is the DA’s office, which is now fully staffed. That increase has allowed the office to resume prosecuting low-level crimes.

He said the sheriff’s office has still had challenges recruiting and there is a task force working to address the law enforcement staffing shortage.

Farr is the current chair of the Board of Lane County Commissioners, a position chosen annually through a majority vote. The body will elect a new chair from among their members on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.