The City of Portland is transitioning from a quaint and quirky city to a booming metropolis and by many metrics it is thriving. We should all feel proud to be part of a city that everyone wants to move to — everyone who lives and works here has been an active part of developing Portland’s character, culture, and splendor.
Yet, when it comes to enjoying the rewards of a growing Portland, as a community we have much work to become “One Portland”. While home values are pushing up, valuable residents and communities are being pushed out. Our painful, and enduring, history of displacement and gentrification combined with a growing houseless population is proof that our housing policies have created two Portlands: Those with the means to maintain housing and a quality of life in a growing Portland, and those forced to leave their housing and search to maintain a quality of life elsewhere.
We need to create a city that has room and opportunity for everyone, while ensuring the communities impacted most are at the center of the decision making table. Our mantra should be “nothing about us without us.”
Everyone who lives or works in Portland should have a safe and stable place to call home in the community where they work, play, and pray. To afford this home, they should not have to sacrifice their health or a dignified quality of life. We should all be able to afford our housing and food, health care, and time to care for ourselves, families and community. To get there, meaningfully and sustainably, will take innovation and courage by elected officials, community members and voters. Together, we must critically analyze the tools, values, constraints, efficacy, motivations, and structural inequities of our current housing ecosystem: from homelessness to homeownership, and everything and every stakeholder in between and be willing to make bold changes.
Affordable housing is key to maintaining a healthy community. Affordability for our most vulnerable residents, working people and elders remains one of the most important issues facing our community.
Everyone deserves an opportunity of having a safe and stable place to call home. Everyone deserves the opportunity of finding affordable housing that is close to work and schools. Everyone deserves a chance at a better life.
We must take action to increase affordable housing not only in Portland, but throughout our region and state.
We must work tirelessly with the public, government, non-profits, and the private sector to find ways to create more revenue to support affordable housing and to explore new ways to increase the affordable housing stock in our community.
Portland should work to minimize the relationship between homelessness and the criminal justice system and create public health opportunities and prioritize housing for people on the streets.
We must continue to support and improve a Home For Everyone, a joint office made possibly through the City of Portland, Multnomah County, the City of Gresham and Home Forward.
We must prioritize supporting people from losing their home, while working to give people of color, women, families, elders and veterans a safe place to call home.
At the same time, we must work to provide opportunities for the larger community and people on the streets to have a voice in improving our approach to giving people a safe place to call home.
We must work to create opportunities to integrate healthcare services for people experiencing homelessness. Healthcare remains an essential way to providing people on the streets a pathway to stability. We must do everything in our power to support and improve our healthcare system to support people experiencing homelessness.
We have long accepted the doctrine that homeownership is the surest and best pathway to stability and wealth building. But for many, homeownership is not—and may never be—an option.
A critical component to an equitable housing platform must include robust protections and resources for renters, a demographic representing nearly half of Portland’s population. Portland’s renters come from every possible demographic but disproportionately includes those from vulnerable and marginalized communities: seniors on fixed incomes, people of color, immigrants & refugees, single parents, people with disabilities and health issues, veterans, low-wage workers, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the queer community. All renters should have access to quality rental housing that they can afford and feel secure in. We need rental housing that focuses on creating a sense of home rather than a temporary place tenants are passing through. When renters feel this security and dignity they invest and participate in the community and get to know and take care of our neighbors. When renters can afford their rent without working multiple jobs they can take better care of themselves and their children a benefit to employers, teachers, and taxpayers.