Morning Roundup: Health care providers fund affordable housing; County might sell Wapato

In today’s news, Oregon health groups fund housing developments, Wapato Jail’s future is uncertain and the state wants to improve its college graduation rate.

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1. Health organizations fund affordable housing

Six Oregon health care organizations pledged $21.5 million in funding for low-income housing projects. Oregon Health & Science University, Providence Health & Services, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Adventist Health, CareOregon and Legacy Health will fund a total of 382 units, according to the Portland Business Journal. Central City Concern will manage the three developments. Each participant donated $4 million, except Adventist which contributed $1.5 million. The donations are generous, but as Willamette Week reports, that’s a fraction of the benefit these groups have received from the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 400,000 additional Oregonians now have insurance, boosting hospital pockets by about $1 billion.

2. Wapato Jail for sale?

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners considered the cost to open Wapato Jail as a homeless shelter last week. The county is also considering selling the facility. Willamette Week reports the county has received several offers to purchase the unused jail located in St. Johns. A majority of commissioners say they oppose the proposed shelter despite a recognized need for additional facilities.

3. Oregon wants to fix its mediocre grad rate

Only 60% of Oregon college freshman will graduate with a degree in 6 years. The state is making moves to improve that statistic, as the Oregonian reports. Lawmakers budgeted $30 million to help the seven public universities keep students on track. Each school is utilizing funding differently. Portland State hired additional student advisers, while the University of Oregon offered additional grant funding to struggling students who are otherwise on track. If these tactics work, schools hope to boost graduation rates by 2020.

4. State likely to pay for school lead testing

The Legislature approved $5 million from the general fund to pay for lead testing in Oregon schools. The Statesman Journal reports the funding won’t cover all associated costs, but should pay for the lab testing fees. Salem-Keizer’s School District, for example, tested 81 schools for about $350,000. The funding approval should reimburse about $67,000 of those fees. 

5. Bend has a tax problem

The city of Bend capped its property tax rate at $2.80 per $1,00 of assessed value back in the 1990s. Those low rates caused a funding issue for Bend, which needs to make road improvements and fund other city projects. The Bend Bulletin reports some residents support the use of tourism funding to pay for these upgrades, but state law limits where taxes can be spent. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a solution.

6. Another Union Pacific train has derailed

The Register Guard reports 13 Union Pacific cars derailed in Eugene Sunday. One of the cars was carrying hazardous material, although none of material spilled. The Mosier train derailment in June dumped 16 cars of crude oil, caused a fire and forced the city to evacuate

7. Are you watching the most hotly-anticipated presidential debate in decades tonight? 

With the polls showing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump neck and neck, this debate could provide a nudge for either candidate. About 50% of voters will use the debates to make their voting decision. NPR outlines four things to watch for as the debate kicks off at 6 p.m.