Housing is a human right, and elected officials and the policies they create should reflect that value. Big developers have had an undo amount of influence in the City’s housing policy. Not only do we need to do more to keep people in their homes in the first place by fully funding and better implementing rental assistance, but we must also support efforts to build deeply affordable housing in innovative ways at scale across the city. Rather than spending millions of dollars subsidizing private development and out-of-state corporations, the city must adjust its priorities by funding programs and housing projects that actually address the housing crisis.
We need to expand on the hard-won victories for renters by fully funding the Rental Services Office, actually eliminating no cause evictions, and creating meaningful caps on how much landlords can raise rents. We also must ensure the pro-renter policies that have passed in the last few years are properly implemented and enforced.
Here in Portland, we must think outside the for-profit developer box to create permanently affordable housing. City Hall should buy and refurbish multifamily housing and remove it from the market to keep it permanently affordable. Let’s launch a visionary public option for affordable home construction. The city should redirect development subsidies into affordable housing efforts. We can create an innovation hub for building deeply affordable, high-quality housing at scale, with union or union-standard labor using modular and 3D printing methods. Cities like Austin and Seattle are experimenting with these new ways of building truly market-rate affordable housing and there’s no reason Portland shouldn’t be a leader in this area as well.
The city must also decriminalize houselessness. Poverty is not a crime, and people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
“Housing is a human right––our actions need to match our values by passing visionary long term policies to solve our housing crisis.”
We need new home construction at every market level, except luxury housing, but that’s not our only tool. City Hall should move to obtain currently affordable housing, refurbish it using union labor, and keep it permanently affordable. The City could also explore a vacancy tax to raise revenue and encourage landlords to fill units.
Portland tenants need a single standardized rental application. Some rental applicants pay hundreds of dollars in application fees, only to face rejection after rejection — a reality faced disproportionately by tenants of color and tenants of LGBTQIA identities.
City Hall should redirect subsidies for private development and unaffordable housing into community land trusts, communal ownership models, and a public option for affordable home construction. It should also compile a database of zombie homes to address unsafe, derelict properties, collect property taxes to fund public services, and identify opportunities for community ownership of affordable housing.
We should decriminalize houselessness. Poverty is not a crime, and people should be treated with respect and dignity.
We must stop the immoral, expensive, and ineffective practice of sweeping away people who are living on the streets of our city –– instead, the city should take the lead on finding public or private properties that can be used to provide temporary housing and services. These locations would be temporary until more permanent solutions come online from current and future investments in permanent housing and services.
The City must also put more funding toward feeding hungry Portlanders. According to the USDA, 1 in 7 Oregon households (14.6%) was food insecure in 2014-2016.