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affordable housing in Portland?

this isn't an article. this is a plea for action.
Over the next few months, Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten will be convening a commission focused on finding new funding for affordable housing. What is mildly confusing about this is does it mean that they want to develop new housing ala columbia village or does that mean that they will work to reduce or keep reasonable rent rates reasonable or does will they simultaneously try to accomplish both or something else?

In the Portland Metro area, 32% of all families do not have affordable housing.
The wage needed to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Portland is $14.83/hr.
446 people were turned away from shelters during Multnomah County's 2002 "One Night Shelter Count."
47% of people accessing Food Banks spent over half of their monthly income.
Over 50% of Portland's population rents their housing.

Tell your own story. The City Council will not understand what you value or what affects your life if you do not explain it to them in a coherent way. In 20-40 words describe why affordable housing will make your life easier. Let them know why affordable housing is good for you.

An example: "I should not have to choose between paying rent and buying food."
Another example: "I should not have to live next door to drug dealers because I can't afford rent in a safer neighborhood."

Vera Katz, Mayor
Commissioner of Finance and Administration
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 340, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4120
E-mail:  mayorkatz@ci.portland.or.us

Erik Sten
Commissioner of Public Works
Position Number 2
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 240, 97204
Phone: (503)823-3589
E-mail:  erik@ci.portland.or.us

more info please 13.Nov.2003 22:46


what's this commission going to be called? Who will be on the board, just katz & sten?

when was the formation of this board announced and what was the context..

where can we go for more information to make letters sound coherent and within context of what is really beoing created, and what the intent behind it's creation is...

Who are they going to be going to find funding FROM is the most inportant question possibly...

Thanks for the tip, but without a bit more to go on, it's hard for me to write a letter on this issue!

No answers in commissions 14.Nov.2003 06:46


This issue has been commissioned to death for thirty years. These commissions, task forces, etc. are a cheap parlor game to soak up the time and energy of those seen as "kooks and cranks" aka housing advocates by city hall, the county and the state.

First step is know your verbage.

There's quite a bit of "affordable" housing available in Portland when you compare it against other, simular cities. Andy Miller of the City's BHCD put together (with, I think, $1million in federal grant money) a nice web site for people who own property to be rented. It's somewhat useful for people who want to rent. See  http://www.housingconnections.org/

I think what you're moaning about is "no-income / low-income" housing. This is quite a shortage in Portland, and there is no more OLD housing stock which can be converted into new housing. Everything in the future will be NEW BUILD. Expensive, needs a lot of planning, and often needs staff support built into the long-term budget. Very complicated. The people who have access to the federal money for these projects is the Housing Authority. See  http://www.hapdx.org/

Interesting - Nick Fish, running for City Council, is the chair of the HAP. What's he done? NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE. There is your leverage point. Steve Rudman, Director of HAP, smart guy, willing to do the work necessary, guy who is primarily responsible for cleaning up the condemned houses in NE/N Portland, is also pushable. He needs outside pressure to go back to City Hall and exclaim the necessity. He needs this sort of help.

But without a significant number of planful people, working in concert and with access to money, lobbying through commissions is pointless.

democratic co housing 14.Nov.2003 11:41


A reasonable, community based approach to affordable housing is forming a coop. The Portland Collective Housing Syndicate already owns two buildings and is probably looking for more. Turning such an issue over to politicians is always a mistake. Politicians are likely unfamiliar with the need for money on a personal level and easily corrupted by developers. When you can no longer trust your "leaders", DIY.

Metro is the key 14.Nov.2003 20:20


Perhaps if Metro was not either:

1.Buying up land to turn into "green spaces" while disallowing the public to enter them

2. Creating the UGB boundary which artificially increases demand for land

You would have affordable housing. Now, you must follow the communist route and have the government bail you out.


Left Portland 15.Nov.2003 00:43

old person

I'm retired on $561 a month in Social Security plus food stamps and the Oregon Health Plan. I left Portland because there was no housing I could afford except living in a house with housemates, which I've found doesn't work. People don't get along.

Rents seem to be a little lower in smaller cities, but it's still hard to find decent and affordable housing.

Typically, I've read, people retire on about half the income they made while working. Soon a lot of low wage baby boomers are going to be retiring. Low wages while you worked mean very low Social Security. Especially if you retire early (62), which about half of us do, because we get tired, sick, and/or no one wants to hire us anymore. Mission control, we have a problem.

Thas Right! 15.Nov.2003 07:49


I was raised by hippies wild in the yonder hills, these were the parents also of the so-called progressive movement. Guess what - none of them saved any money, none of them thought of the future and none of them worked consistantly. The final punishment for folly? $561 a month, locked into a commercial economy which cracks their balls.

Co-ops are a fun idea. But there really aren't any models of intentional communities for people WHO AREN'T RICH except rag tag outfits like Dignity Village.

Needed 18.Nov.2003 11:44


Neded: Minimum wage linked to housing cost index--if a business can't pay the $20 an hour that might be, tough shit,they don't deserve to exist.
Limits on the value of real property--US Constitution be damned--and thus limits on the price of housing. Encourage the state to show some spine in this--actual jailing of property owners who allow themselves to be paid too much money for their land. I'm a homeowner, but I'm not stupid enough to believe in the fiction and fantasy called the "market economy" on this one. A free market in land and housing does genuine harm--why is everyone afraid to address this in a direct way?