Marc Jolin, the director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) is stepping down from his role leading the department shared by both the city of Portland and Multnomah County. Jolin joined JOHS as its inaugural director in 2016, a few years after taking the helm of the county's A Home for Everyone initiative, a committee made up of regional leaders and social service experts convened in 2014 to collaboratively address the region's homeless crises. A Home for Everyone eventually transitioned into JOHS.
Previous to JOHS, Jolin worked as the director of JOIN, a Portland nonprofit that aims to connect houseless individuals with permanent housing.
Jolin will be replaced by Shannon Singleton at JOHS, who currently works as Governor Kate Brown's Director of Equity and Racial Justice and is currently running for the Multnomah County Chair in the May election. Singleton, who will serve as interim director at JOHS, also served as JOIN's director after Jolin stepped down in 2014. She plans on exiting the county race to focus on JOHS.
“Shannon’s administrative skills and tenacity will be the bridge between the extraordinary foundation Marc built and the Joint Office’s future,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury in a Tuesday press release. “With Shannon’s leadership, we can urgently address the current crisis on the streets, while refining our longer-term direction and hiring a permanent director.”
Under Jolin's leadership, the JOHS expanded to develop and oversee around 2,000 shelter beds across the region, adapted to following COVID-19 mandates, and helped run emergency shelters during weather emergencies.
Jolin's resignation comes amid a period of change within JOHS. In the past year, some who sit on the A Home for Everyone board—which oversees JOHS decisions—have raised concerns about the board including leaders of nonprofit organizations that directly benefit from grant funding approved by the board itself. The board is now actively working to restructure itself to avoid this problem, especially now that the JOHS is involved in doling out an influx in fundings collected from 2020's Metro bond for supportive housing. Last fall, reporting by Willamette Week raised concerns about the JOHS office approving grant funding for a consulting firm led by Jolin's wife, Kristina Smock.
The region has also witnessed a surge in visible homelessness since the COVID-19 pandemic began, spurring campaigns from outside interest groups and local elected officials to overhaul the region's response to homelessness.
Those who work closely with Jolin say these recent challenges had no impact on Jolin's departure. Jolin's final day leading JOHS will be March 28, but he will stay on to support the transition as a "director of special projects," according to the county, until June.