By Ann Dudley

At the Legislative Housing Emergency Forum in January sixteen state legislators were present to hear testimony from twenty-six people confronting housing issues.

Mosaic featured in Mosaic Garden Project

Mosaic featured in Mosaic Garden Project

These included:  evictions, rent increases,  homelessness, special populations (such as veterans, elderly and disabled), refugees, and community health issues related to the housing crisis.
Those who testified included citizens with personal stories and professionals from a number of organizations who work with people affected by the housing crisis.  
Many suggested steps that could be taken are: prohibit no-cause evictions; increase prior notice required for rent increases; adressing inclusionary zoning; tenants rights measures; stop sweeps of homeless camps AND individuals (the city placed a moratorium on sweeps, but DOT still does them along the state roads, such as 205).
Other topics: increased funds for short-term supported housing and for rent assistance; increase shelter beds; and institute health/safety requirements for landlords (related to mold, etc.).
There was an estimated 300 people present.   (In the audience were Ted Wheeler and Jules Bailey, Mayor Charlie Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick, Representative Rob Nosse plus a couple of others running for office.)
Tina Kotek and Diane Rosenbaum wrapped up the afternoon with pledges to work on housing issues during this legislative session. Kotek listed 3 priorities for the session:  increased funds for short term housing assistance, a tenant’s rights bill and inclusionary zoning.
There will be a community housing forum to discuss Portland’s housing issues specifically affecting the Native community.  It will be moderated by Tawna Sanchez. (Wheeler and Bailey will be present).  Friday, Feb. 26; 6:30 pm at the NAYA Family Center, 5135 NE Columbia Blvd.

The level of homelessness we’re seeing now is relatively new to America. In 1970 there was a surplus of affordable housing units but in 1980 it began to evaporate.
The Reagan administration slashed federal spending on housing assistance by 50 percent. At the same time gentrification began to speed up with cities getting rid of cheap housing and single room occupancy units.
In 2010 the government launched Opening Doors, the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. The first goal is to end homelessness among veterans, the chronically homeless and families.
Both Phoenix and Salt Lake City implemented this program and they recently announced they had ended chronic homelessness among veterans. They focused on the housing first approach then applied programs like job training and health care.
In Portland the Welcome Home Coailition is working to build back the affordable housing infrastructure with at least 40,000 affordable homes in the Portland/Metro area.
Addressing socioeconomic disparities, institutional racism, and unequal access to housing, they are working towards housing justice.
Communities of color, people with disabilities and other systemically oppressed groups have disproportionately experienced limited access to safe and affordable homes, housing displacement and the trauma of homelessness.
In order to achieve a vision of housing justice for communities of color and people directly impacted by the affordable housing crisis,
Welcome Home encourages community members to hold positions as decision-makers, leaders, advocates and representatives of the Coalition.
See welcomehomecoalition.org for more. NT