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Oregon Mayor Builds Homeless Shelter at No Cost to the City

Lacey Beaty came into office as mayor of Beaverton, Ore., with less power than her predecessor. That hasn't stopped her from taking on the city's biggest issue.

Mayor Lacey Beaty for Governing Magazine
Lacey Beaty says she brings all the skills she's gained from serving in different roles to the job of mayor.
Photo: Rachel Hadiashar

Editor's Note: This article appears in Governing's Spring 2024 magazine. You can subscribe here.

After serving as a combat medic in Iraq, Lacey Beaty felt lonely and adrift. In the Army, she’d been part of a team with a shared mission and sense of purpose. She quickly realized she needed to find new ways to serve, joining a local visioning committee before winning election to the City Council in Beaverton, Ore. Four years ago, she was elected as the first woman and youngest mayor in the city’s history. “I get to bring every skill in my life to do the job,” she says.

Beaty unseated an incumbent but took office with fewer powers than he’d enjoyed. At the same time she was elected, voters switched the city from a strong mayor to council-manager form of government. Suddenly, finding consensus and taking action became a lot more difficult.

That didn’t stop her from tackling the city’s toughest issue head on. Sitting just west of Portland, Beaverton also has a significant homelessness problem. Successfully lobbying for federal and state funds, Beaty in November was able to break ground on the city’s first emergency homeless shelter, which will cost residents nothing to build or operate.

“I truly believe government is its own worst enemy sometimes,” she says, “because we try to solve such big issues that we miss opportunities to take meaningful first steps. This is our meaningful first step.”
Alan Greenblatt is the editor of Governing. He can be found on Twitter at @AlanGreenblatt.
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