MACG Housing Work Gains Momentum in Two Counties
Co-chairs Alejandro Bautista and Bev Logan, St. Andrew Catholic Church, look out over the crowd at the 9/29 Housing Action Assembly in Portland
MACG’s affordable housing work continues to grow with 250 leaders in attendance at a September 29th assembly in Portland, and 160 total at two recent assemblies in Clackamas County.
At the 9/29 assembly, Portland/Multnomah County Housing Team Leaders highlighted the values that guide the team’s work, and covered a range of housing issues, including accountability for past affordable housing commitments, funding for community-generated innovations, tenant protections, and education on a critical affordable housing ballot measure on the November ballot.
As LaVeta Gilmore-Jones, Leaven Community/Salt & Light Lutheran Church, stated:
“We value policies that tackle the systemic injustice…that perpetuates privilege—legal, economic and social power—for some, and perpetual poverty, isolation and suffering for others…
If we want solutions to the affordable housing crisis to un-concentrate poverty…those who struggle most must have access to the same beauty, stability, and opportunities of neighborhoods that support everyone else, creating pathways out of turmoil and despair, and life chances that favor wellness, success and security.”
Stories from four story-tellers illustrated this value, including Ziggy Buff, a client at member institution OHSU Department of Family Medicine at Richmond who shared his story of homelessness and his years of giving back to the community through his flower ministry, and 16-year-old Stephanie Rojas, from St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, who shared her family’s experience of being split up due to the lack of suitable affordable housing for her family of eight.
Assembly leaders negotiated successfully with Matt Tschabold, Policy and Equity Manager for the Portland Housing Bureau, on commitments to work with MACG on:
- Holding developers accountable to their commitments to build affordable housing
- Creating a mandatory inspection program to protect tenants
- Making $5 million available to fund innovative projects generated by the community
[Note: Bureau of Housing Director Kurt Creager had committed to represent the Housing Bureau in these negotiations, but was called away for a family emergency.]
Jes Larson of the Welcome Home Coalition also educated the audience about the Yes for Affordable Homes ballot measure, which would provide funding for 1300 affordable homes for the lowest income residents. She lifted up volunteer opportunities for the measure as immediate next action steps. Thirty-one audience members committed to canvass for the measure and 52 to participate in phone banking.
The Clackamas County work is focused on Tiny Houses as a strategy to address homelessness and provide permanent housing for some of its most vulnerable residents. MACG leaders are working simultaneously with faith institutions in the county to consider dedicating a portion of their property to site one or more tiny houses, and with the county to modify zoning codes to allow this land use to address the growing housing crisis.
When an individual falls into homelessness, the average public cost is $40,000 per person per year between shelters, jails, and emergency rooms. A Tiny House can be built for as little as $10,000.
Clackamas County Commissioner Jim Bernard and Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba attended the second Clackamas assembly. They are among several public officials in the county who have shown strong support for MACG’s citizen leaders as they’ve pursued research and action to address this pressing issue.
Congratulations to all the MACG leaders in both counties who put in the hard work and TURNED OUT to make these assemblies a success!
If you are interested in joining the MACG housing team in either county, contact Mary Nemmers, Lead Organizer firstname.lastname@example.org.