November 10, 2016
We can't stop thinking about the moment on Tuesday night when Jes Larson of the Welcome Home Coalition announced our big win. Nearly two out of three Portland voters said #Yes4Homes, and passed Measure 26-179!
With more ballots counted, we're at a solid 62% support. That's unbelievable. We are so proud of the work our coalition and volunteers put into this campaign, and we are humbled by Portlanders' resounding YES.
Thank you, for everything you have done to secure this victory. Thanks to you, almost 3,000 of the most vulnerable Portlanders—including seniors, families with children, veterans, and people with disabilities—will soon have a safe, stable, and affordable home.
No doubt, there is more work to do. We're passing the torch back to the Welcome Home Coalition, the organization that built this ballot measure, pushed to pass it, and will continue to advocate for our region's affordable housing needs. Please stay engaged. Together, we will make Portland a place everyone can afford to call home.
November 06, 2016
Spiritually, elections call me to reflect on the greater good. I struggle to balance my self-interest with the needs of our larger world. What role do we play as voters in creating the world we dream about? I think about my childhood, growing up in a neighborhood shaped by voters a generation earlier, who fought and won civil and human rights. On November 8th, APANO is proud to be building on this legacy, building power through one on one conversations and laying the groundwork for future generations.
APANO is training and mobilizing over 200 volunteers and hosting ten multilingual phonebanks to win #Yes4Homes. We’ve distributed multilingual voter guides and mailers, and engaging our communities across Oregon. Our talented leaders and staff, led by Kathy, Kara, Yian, Helene, Lokyee, and Nista, are reaching over 20,000 voters.
Measure 26-179 is part of a larger housing justice strategy to support a neighborhood home for all. The work we’re doing together will make a difference by increasing permanently affordable housing throughout Portland for generations to come.
We’ve been joined by volunteers speaking Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Lao, Marshallese, Arabic and more, to turn out voters by 8 pm on Tuesday November 8th. Every conversation is a movement building opportunity, where APANO’s mission is to organize a base for meaningful engagement long-term that achieves social justice. We create space for Asian and Pacific Islander civic leadership in order to best understand the issues that affect us, build lasting alliances, and focus our gifts to realize the world we dream about.
We have a little more than 48 hours before ballots are due, and less than half of registered voters have turned in their ballot. Will you forward this email to five friends, and urge them to vote?
Think of who in your address book has been impacted by the housing crisis—perhaps they’ve struggled to find a home, or are dealing with a big rent increase. They need to hear from you that it’s important to vote #Yes4Homes on Measure 26-179 by 8 pm on Tuesday.
Thank you for your ongoing support. It’s because of people like you that I believe we have a bright future in Portland.
Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
P.S. — It’s too late to mail your ballot. Click here to find a ballot box near you.
November 04, 2016
Four more days. We are just four days away from seeing our hard work pay off with Measure 26-179, the affordable housing bond. (But we aren't taking any vote for granted—join us on Saturday and Sunday as we remind people to turn in their ballots!)
Here we are. Over the past two years, the Welcome Home Coalition has been building towards this moment. Hundreds of volunteers have knocked on more than 13,000 doors and just yesterday we hit our volunteer goal for calling voters too. We've built an incredible coalition of supporters. We built this movement together!
I'll be honest, it hasn't been easy. But every step along the way, I've been inspired to keep moving forward because of the people I've met. The people who have gotten us to this point, and the people whose lives would be forever changed if voters approve this bond.
- People like Wendy, a mom who lives in Cully with her four children and her husband, in a small apartment where the rent is about to go up again. They've been on affordable housing wait lists for two years.
- And people like Richard, whose rental home was foreclosed on, forcing him and his family to live in their car. They were fortunate to find an affordable home in SW Portland, but Richard is quick to remind people that there are thousands of homeless families in Portland who are still waiting.
- Or June and Scott, seniors who are staying in a homeless shelter until they can find a place they can afford on their combined $1,100 in monthly income. They're willing to spend almost half their income on rent, but it's nearly impossible to find a place for $500 a month.
- And the Malofeys, Ukrainian immigrants whose first rental home in Portland was sold out from under them after 7 months. Lyubov and Petro finally found an affordable home in Foster Powell for their family, including their grown son Valeriy, who has a disability. They wish every family in Portland could enjoy the stability they've found in their new home.
I am so honored to carry stories like these as I knock on doors to talk to Portlanders about Measure 26-179. These are our neighbors, and our friends. The thousands of people sleeping in shelters or on the streets, and the thousands more on the verge of homelessness when the rent goes up again. The people who will be helped by this bond. They are us.
Welcome Home Coalition
P.S. — On November 8, we'll gather after 7 pm at p:ear (338 NW 6th Ave, in Old Town) to wait for election results and, I hope, celebrate a victory! Join us!
P.P.S. — As of today, it may be too late to mail your ballot. Make sure it's counted by dropping it off at an official drop site by Tuesday night at 8 pm.
November 01, 2016
In my 15 years advocating for affordable housing in Portland and Seattle, the need has never been greater. The housing crisis in our community is real, and it's growing.
- Every night an estimated 4,400 Portlanders sleep outside or in our shelters. Increasingly these are families, people of color, people with disabilities and seniors.
- Today in Portland, accessing a shelter can take two to eight months, while waiting for permanent affordable housing requires one to three years.
- Last year, average monthly rents increased by $128 citywide. Portland is one of the most expensive rental markets in the nation, and average rent for a new one bedroom apartment is more than $1,900.
- There are 61% more Oregon seniors living in poverty today than just a decade ago. Between 2013 and 2015, there was a 23% increase in the number of people aged 55 and older that were homeless.
- According to the last “point-in-time” count, 374 children in Multnomah County were unsheltered, sleeping in emergency shelters, or in transitional housing. Nearly all were in families, and a growing percentage were in families sleeping outside or in their car.
- 57% of people experiencing homelessness have a disability.
- More than 50 individuals die on our streets every year.
As Executive Director of Street Roots, which connects people experiencing homelessness and poverty with the opportunity to be a newspaper vendor, I see firsthand these harsh realities of homelessness. Behind every one of these statistics are real people. Our neighbors. Members of our community.
In April, I delivered a TedxPortland Talk about the history of homelessness, where we are today and what could be done. The most important message delivered during the talk was that homelessness isn't normal. It's not. It's simply not normal to have thousands of individuals and families sleeping on our streets.
And until the Welcome Home Coalition started digging in two years ago in to figure out how to fund more permanently affordable housing, I wasn't sure how our community would be able to meaningfully address this crisis. Measure 26-179 is the result of that work, and goes hand-in-hand with other recent policy changes in Portland, like the construction excise tax, and the tax on short term rentals.
The positive impact this bond will make is huge. If passed, funding from the bond would house up to 3,000 Portlanders each years—and about 58,000 people over the long life of the housing. It's the biggest opportunity our community has had to act since I started doing this work.
I hope you will join me in voting #Yes4Homes by November 8. We can't afford not to.
P.S. — time is running out to mail your ballot. After Thursday, November 3, be sure to drop it off. Click here to find a ballot box near you.
October 26, 2016
From the Portland Observer:
What seems to address a more poignant issue for Portlanders specifically is Measure 26-179, which could help the city’s current housing crisis. If passed, the measure would allocate $258 million in obligated bonds to go towards affordable housing for low income households.
These bonds would be reviewed by an independent oversight committee and used to purchase and renovate existing homes to maintain affordability, build new affordable homes and prevent displacement by helping families stay in their homes. A mix of housing units would be built and featured, helping senior citizens as well as those with disabilities.
“The families who have been on our affordable housing waiting list will be the first to tell you there are not enough homes in Portland that are affordable to low-income families, working parents, and seniors,” says Travis Phillips, the director of housing and development at Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI). “We support the affordable housing bond measure because it helps address this critical shortage.”
Read the rest at the Portland Observer.
October 24, 2016
Rentas exorbitantes. Familias que están perdiendo sus hogares. Adultos mayores con ingresos fijos que están siendo forzados a abandonar los vecindarios en los que han vivido todas sus vidas. Personas sin hogar cuya única opción es vivir en nuestras calles.
TODOS ESTAMOS SIENDO AFECTADOS POR LA CRISIS DE VIVIENDA ACCESIBLE DE PORTLAND
En los últimos 15 años, los costos de vivienda para los inquilinos de Portland han incrementado un 30%, mientras que sus ingresos han caído en un 7%. En el 2015, la renta mensual promedio para una nueva vivienda de alquiler era de $1,954. Portland tiene una escasez de alrededor de 24,000 casas y departamentos accesibles para las familias y los adultos mayores que ganan menos de $37,000 al año.
COMO COMUNIDAD, DEBEMOS Y PODEMOS ACTUAR
Votar “Sí” en la Medida 26-179 —Bonos de Vivienda Accesible de Portland (Portland’s Affordable Housing Bond)— creará al menos 1,300 departamentos nuevos, algo que es urgente y necesario, lo que brindará hogares a 2,900 de las personas de bajos ingresos más vulnerables en nuestra ciudad.
Las familias trabajadoras y los adultos mayores de Portland deberían poder pagar por una vivienda y aún contar con el dinero suficiente para comprar alimentos y otras necesidades. Juntos podemos hacer de Portland un lugar al que todos podamos llamar hogar.
MEDIDA 26-179¡SÍ A LAS VIVIENDAS ACCESIBLES!
La Medida 26-179 permite que la Ciudad de Portland emita hasta $258,400,000 en bonos de obligación general para construir nuevas viviendas de alquiler accesibles y para comprar edificios existentes a precio de mercado, que serían convertidos en viviendas accesibles permanentes para las familias, adultos mayores, veteranos y personas con discapacidades de bajos ingresos de Portland.
El costo del bono para los propietarios es de 42 centavos por cada $1,000 del valor estimado. Esto resulta en $75 al año, o $6.25 al mes, para el propietario de una casa valuada en $178,230 (el valor promedio estimado para Portland).
Los costos administrativos están limitados al 7 % o menos del total del fondo de bono, y la medida requiere de auditorías para garantizar que los fondos se utilicen de forma adecuada.
¡Vote Sí a la Vivienda este 8 de noviembre!
October 24, 2016
We must pass Measure 26-179. People like Wendy are counting on us.
Like so many families with very low incomes, Wendy's family of six is waiting for the chance to move into a permanently affordable home. A place that will give her children stability and security. A place to thrive. "That’s why I went to City Hall to testify in favor of Measure 26-179, so that there can be more affordable homes and apartments for people in the city,” she says in Spanish, through a translator.
She's grateful that her husband has a job that covers the rent on her family's tiny two bedroom apartment in Cully, as long as it stays low enough. "I’m paying $750, but they are going to raise our rent this year, we’ve heard. They are going to raise rent $50—it’ll be $800. We’re on the waiting list for a lot of other low-income housing, but it’s been a long time and we’re not able to get into other affordable housing because there’s not enough affordable housing in this city. We've been waiting for two years."
There are thousands of families like Wendy's in Portland. Families who worry about the next rent increase, and aren't sure where they would go if the rent goes too high. Families who deserve the stability that permanently affordable housing provides.
As a community, we must act, and pass Measure 26-179 on November 8.
October 19, 2016
Via the Oregonian:
Israel Bayer, executive director of the Street Roots newspaper, admits the city's chamber of commerce may not seem like a natural political partner for his homelessness and advocacy organization.
In 2013, the Portland Business Alliance lobbied to give Portland the power to ban homeless people from sitting or lying on sidewalks. This year, Clean and Safe, a nonprofit managed by the PBA, paid for a controversial billboard that suggested panhandlers are addicts.
But the strange bedfellows are walking hand-in-hand this fall — backing a $258.4 million affordable-housing bond on the Nov. 8 ballot that would mark an unprecedented gusher of construction cash for the region and cinch a rare moment of unity in an often-fraught discussion over homelessness and housing policy.
They're not alone. The chamber and weekly newspaper are two of the disparate groups backing Measure 26-179. The campaign pulled in close to $400,000 in the past few months from politically connected developers, nonprofit housing agencies, union groups and elected officials.
October 19, 2016
Portland isn't the first city to ask voters to make an investment in affordable housing. From Seattle to Denver to Charlotte, each jurisdiction has adopted a different structure to fund the creation of permanently affordable housing.
It's important to take a close look when comparing Portland's bond—how much it will raise, how many homes it will build, and what each home will cost—with any other city. We have a responsibility to do the right math when talking about such a serious issue, and make sure we're comparing apples to apples.
"Cost per unit" is the cost of buying land, buying the lumber and other materials, paying for labor and building apartment buildings that will last for generations and rent at very low rent rates. Portland's affordable housing bond is expected to create at least 1,300 permanently affordable homes at just under $200,000 per unit.
This is very different than a "subsidy per unit" model, like the one used in Denver. There, the city council raised developer fees and property taxes to create a $150 million affordable housing fund, which will "subsidize the preservation or building of 6,000 units." In other words, Denver's fund will offset the cost-per-unit of affordable homes, but it won't completely cover the costs.
Why didn't Portland pursue an affordable housing fund like Denver's? In Oregon, our laws don't allow it. Oregon currently requires general obligation bond projects—like those built by Measure 26-179—to stay in public ownership. That means Portland can't pursue other sources of funding—like partnerships and private investments—for these projects; the bond must cover 100% of the costs per unit so they remain 100% publicly owned.
But as long as we're comparing Portland to Denver, it's also important to note: Our costs to fully construct apartments is right on the mark with other similar housing markets, including Denver! Check out this July 2016 study in Denver, which "estimated total development costs of $350 per net square foot and assumed average unit sizes of 600 square feet for a one-bedroom unit and 900 square feet for a two-bedroom unit based on a review of pro formas from the Denver Housing Authority for recent mid-rise affordable housing developments." In plain language, that means the cost per unit for a Denver one-bedroom is over $200,000.
And what's more important to consider is the cost of doing nothing. We know that the costs of emergency services, medical expenses and increased shelter capacity all far exceed the costs of making sure families with low incomes have affordable homes.
Our limited public resources go much further when we spend them where they're needed most: on affordable housing. For example, a study of Bud Clark Commons—a 130-unit affordable apartment complex and service center that opened in 2011 in Old Town—found "a significant change in post-housing health care costs," noting that Medicare costs alone dropped by an average of $8,724 per resident per year, a 45 percent decline, after moving into the affordable homes.
That's why this bond isn't only a right thing to do for Portlanders, it's a smart investment for Portland.
October 13, 2016
Via the Portland Tribune:
For many months now, Portland residents have lamented the soaring cost of housing in their city, but they’ve also felt helpless to do much about it. The Nov. 8 election offers a chance for them to make a dent in the problem through the best means possible — by actually increasing the supply of affordable places to live...
Voters should approve Measure 26-179 and then hold city officials accountable for getting the most out of this important investment.