Shannon Singleton, a longtime housing and homelessness policy advisor at the state and local levels, has announced her plan to run for Multnomah County Chair in the May 2022 primary race.
In a Tuesday press release, Singleton said that she sees the chair's office as the "best position to make the most impact on homelessness, mental health and moving people to permanent housing."
Singleton, a trained social worker, currently serves as Governor Kate Brown's Director of Equity and Racial Justice. Previously, she worked as Brown's advisor on housing policy, a job she accepted after nearly five years as the director of JOIN, a Portland nonprofit that connects unhoused residents with stable housing. Singleton also has experience working within the Portland Housing Bureau and Cascadia Behavior Healthcare, where she oversaw the mental healthcare organization's transitional housing facility.
“As County Chair, I will utilize all of the tools to fully address the short- and long-term complexity of homelessness, our mental health crisis while also preventing people from becoming homeless because they can’t afford rent," said Singleton.
Multnomah County oversees the regional mental health services and the Joint Office of Homeless Services, granting the County Chair unique policymaking power over issues Singleton has experience with.
Singleton was one of the architects of the state's response to COVID-19 within the homeless population, and created the requirement for counties to include racial equity plans in their vaccine rollout proposals. She's also played a recent role in informing Brown's work around the I-5 expansion plan in Portland's Rose Quarter, specifically in regards to how the freeway's redesign could impact the neighboring communities of color.
Singleton is the third person to formally announce their candidacy in the Multnomah County Chair race, joining current county commissioners Jessica Vega Pederson and Sharon Meieran. Current Chair Deborah Kafoury has held the office since 2015. Kafoury is unable to run for the position due to term limits.
Singleton has collected the endorsement of Lisa Bates, a Portland State University urban studies professor with a focus on homelessness and racial equity.
“COVID-19, fire and heat, homelessness and economic upheaval: unprecedented times have revealed our community's vulnerabilities to be even deeper than we already knew," said Bates in the press release. "To come through this time stronger, we need a leader who has experience delivering life-changing social services as MC's next chair. I believe Shannon is undaunted in her commitment and unrivaled in her capabilities."