What about affordable housing?

Writing last week in the Oregonian, affordable housing advocate Sam Chase wonders aloud who will step up to address affordable housing on the Portland City Council - now that Erik Sten is on his way out.

Erik Sten understood the critical connection between affordable housing and a strong economy. Housing gives people an opportunity to build better lives, and to succeed a person needs a place to call home. In a political climate in which affordable-housing talk is popular but action is often sidelined for other priorities, Sten took charge. He led efforts to build housing for families with children in school, to protect homes for vulnerable seniors, to create homeownership opportunities for people of color and to serve Portland's homeless.

Sten's biggest achievement was not just that he set a tone of support for affordable housing on the City Council. He provided a framework for decision-makers and community leaders throughout Oregon. His undying support for affordable housing as a tool to address poverty helped secure new resources and policy changes throughout the region and the state. ...

With Sten's departure, it's time to ask the question: Who will step up to lead the charge for affordable housing?


  • RNinOR (unverified)

    In a recent Blogtown interview, Amanda Fritz said this:

    The City can help the County by prioritizing provision of affordable housing, funding emergency care in the community, and returning more tax revenue to the County by allowing Urban Renewal Areas to end.

    When the City has permanent stable funding to meet its responsibility to provide housing, the County will not have to spend so much money on hospitalization. Housing is needed to get a job, housing allows people to spend time in treatment instead of on survival, housing provides a measure of safety, distance from on-street drug dealers, and insulation from the need to "get drunk to stay warm and fall asleep". I will continue to implement the "Housing First" strategy Commissioner Sten has put in place.

    Disclosure: I am supporting Amanda Fritz for city commissioner seat #1 because she best represents Portland because of her progressive stand on issues, her attention to fiscal responsibility, her representation of women's voices on city council (currently, an all-male club) and the smarts and flexibility it takes to be a nurse (something I'm just learning-I'm a new grad).

  • (Show?)

    Disclosure: I am supporting Amanda Fritz for city commissioner seat...

    Not to worry. We don't need disclosures of who you're supporting. Otherwise, all we'll have around here are those disclosures.

    Just if you're on staff or a consultant.

  • PeteJacobsen (unverified)

    I agree with RNinOR - Amanda Fritz can pick up the affordable housing ball easily. If I understand her position correctly, she will make sure major new expensive projects are not undertaken without at least looking hard at what basic needs could be taken care of with that money.

    I know that might make it harder to get a Tram or Streetcar project started, but I certainly think it is the right way to handle things.

  • (Show?)

    I think the clear heir apparent is Charles Lewis. Unlike Fritz, Lewis has said that he wants head Housing and Community Development, whereas Fritz says that she wants to head the police department. Lewis is actually making affordable housing a central issue of his campaign and is clearly passionate about the issue. That passion showed especially in this youtube video that the campaign sent to the Mercury about what bureau he wants to head.

  • midwstbob (unverified)

    Amanda was on the planning commission that let the tram pass. She didn’t vote for it, but she sure as heck didn’t vote against it and as someone who prides herself on knowing the ins and outs of urban planning that's not right. I agree with bdunn. We need someone who will stand up for Portland’s middle income and lower income people – that’s Charles Lewis. Check out his response to which bureaus he would want – housing is his number one priority and, unlike Amanda, he’ll be effective. This is very needed since Sten will be leaving soon.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    We'll know that affordable housing programs in Portland are stable when they don't need a champion on the City Council like Erik Sten or anyone else - they just run like clockwork, effective clockwork, on their own, like any other zoning law.

  • Steve (unverified)

    "His undying support for affordable housing"

    He sure didn't have any problem supporting things like SoWa with ZERO affordable housing or letting PDC throw money at $500K condo developements, so I think anyone with a good PR flack will do just as much for affordable housing plus they may know something about computers unlike Erik.

  • Amanda Fritz (unverified)

    Amanda was on the planning commission that let the tram pass. She didn’t vote for it, but she sure as heck didn’t vote against it

    The Portland Plannng Commission recommended to the City Council that the tram not be built without a further, thorough cost-benefit analysis. I was the leader of the opposition to the tram on the Planning Commission, and helped craft that recommendation and win majority support for it. The Council ignored the advice of their Planning Commission.

    With fellow Planning Commissioner Ernie Bonner and working with affordable housing advocates in the community, I helped put provisions for affordable housing in the South Waterfront Plan. The Council and PDC have since reneged on some of the deal, but just this past week approved the design for 200 affordable homes for veterans.

    I have actively supported funding and policies for affordable housing in Portland for over ten years. I was a leader in writing the Accessory Dwelling Units code, and getting it adopted. So far, that has resulted in 4000 affordable, neighborhood-friendly small homes citywide. You may favor another candidate, but please don't distort my record.

  • not fooled again (unverified)


    When you were given the opportunity to serve on the Planning Commission, you were delegated with the task of looking out for the people of Portland by voting on key proposals. Letting the Tram pass with a “needs more study” suggestion instead of a decisive “no” allowed the project to be pushed through city hall. It may be politically expedient now for you to say that “you didn’t vote for it,” but that’s just double talk for “you didn’t vote against it.” You were on the Planning Commission to look after us, and you let us down by not taking a stand when true leadership was required. I was duped into voting for you last time, but won’t be fooled again.

    p.s. Taking credit for Erik Sten’s work on affordable housing in the South Waterfront really takes the cake! You already make a great politician!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Any discussion about affordable housing needs to include support for a living wage. The minimum wage just won't cut it.

  • Dick Brownstein (unverified)
    <h2>Nick Fish has a well established record as a low income housing advocate. I was the Housing Authority's general counsel during the years that Nick was a Commissioner and Vice Chairman. There was no Commissioner who was more articulate or commmited to the cause than Nick.</h2>
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