After six months at the helm of the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS), interim director Shannon Singleton has announced she'll be stepping down by the end of November.
In a press release, Singleton explained that she chose to accept a job at a public affairs firm called Espousal Strategies instead of pursuing the permanent director position at JOHS. Her last day at the government agency will be November 24.
Singleton, who has a long background in social services, took on the leadership role at JOHS in March, after the department's inaugural director Marc Jolin stepped down. At the time, the county noted it would be embarking on a national search for a permanent director. According to Multnomah County spokesperson Denis Theriault , the consultant company leading that search began its work several months ago, but the job posting for the position—which offers an annual salary of up to $219,000—went live today.
Singleton's office reports directly to the Multnomah County chair. Theriault clarified that Singleton's job transition was in the works before Tuesday's election, where voters appointed a new chair.
Current Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury thanked Singleton for her work in a email to JOHS staff this morning.
"When I asked Shannon Singleton to step in this year as interim Joint Office director, I knew there was no one better to tackle the immediate challenges ahead," said Kafoury. "When Shannon let me know she wasn’t planning on pursuing the permanent director job... it was hardly a surprise someone else would snap her up and put her skills and passion to use on other issues."
Singleton did not qualify for a severance package, as she left by choice.
Kafoury has appointed JOHS Deputy Director Joshua Bates to serve as the interim director while they search for a permanent leader. Bates has worked at JOHS for nearly four years.
Singleton's announcement comes a week after Portland City Council approved a plan to criminalize unsheltered homeless camping by 2024 and create mass legal camping sites to hold up to 250 people. The plan requires a hefty financial commitment from Multnomah County, which shares oversight of JOHS with the city. Kafoury has not endorsed the proposal, instead pointing to local investments already in the works to build shelter and affordable housing. JOHS was not consulted in the city's development of the proposal.