Power to the people! After a classic campaign, MACG and allies win $67 million for affordable housing
You did it! On Wednesday, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to increase funding for affordable housing by 67 million dollars. As many as 670 more low-income families will now have a safe, dry place to call home within the next five years.
This win for Portland was far from guaranteed at the beginning. It took classic, MACG organizing to make it happen.
The Organizing Cycle started last spring when MACG held listening sessions across its member institutions. Over 600 people participated, and affordable housing was by far our members’ #1 concern.
Next step: Research. The Affordable Housing Action Team formed. Hard working team leaders researched the housing situation in Portland and found an opportunity for MACG to make a difference: Pushing for an increase in the tax increment financing (TIF) set-aside for affordable housing, which was in its five-year review.
Over 110 MACG leaders attended the final vote
Next step: Action! MACG turned out 13 people to the first TIF hearing. Despite the housing crisis, policy makers were recommending no change – TIF should remain at 30%.
MACG turned out 35 people to the next hearing along with a recommendation to increase TIF to 50%. Policy makers were starting to listen.
At each hearing we attended, MACG leaders testified, telling their personal stories of difficulties finding housing, and asking for increased funding.
The next hearing we turned out 100 leaders and they had to change venues to accommodate us all!
In the meantime, Housing Team leaders were in the words of Commissioner Dan Saltzman “working the building,” meeting with Mayor Hales and City Commissioners as well as other key figures in the decision-making process. And many of you added to the effort by writing and calling them with your housing stories.
Two weeks ago 140 MACG members and allies showed up for a MACG press conference and City Council work session, a big show of power. City Commissioners delayed the vote on the final policy one week so they could work out a deal between what at that time was a divided council.
Which brings us to Wednesday. We turned out 110 MACG leaders to observe the final hearing. Housing Team co-chair Rita Delamatre represented MACG on a special panel by invitation of the Commissioners. Housing Team leader, John Rodgers also testified, as did Francia Velázquez whose powerful story was later featured on OPB.
MACG Leader Fancia Velazquez told her powerful story to the Commissioners
In the end, Commissioners voted unanimously to increase TIF to 45% or by 67 million dollars, a big jump from the 0% increase we started with.
Council members credited MACG several times during the hearing with contributing to this outcome, and it was the hard work and leadership of the Housing Team, and the repeated turning out by you that made this possible!
Yesterday's vote marked the end of the #TakeTIFto50 Campaign, but there is much work ahead to address the pressing need for more affordable housing in the metro area. While 670 new units is good, we're behind by 23,000!
Final Step: Evaluation and Celebration. The Housing Team will conduct a full evaluation of the campaign on Monday, November 9th, 7-9 pm, at Leaven Community, 5431 NE 20th Ave, Portland. Please join us, and please consider being part of the team as we continue our research and identify other ways to move the dial on this critical issue.
City Council takes two big strides to boost affordable housing funding —Portland Tribune, 10/28/15
The Key Players on Affordable Housing in Portland —InvestigateWest, 10/21/15
See photos from Wednesday's vote on Facebook