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Candidates on housing and homelessness: Novick, White, Williams

City Council: Position 4

With the primary election happening, Street Roots asked the leading mayoral and city council candidates one question: If elected what three things will you do to improve the state of homelessness and affordable housing in Portland?

Steve Novick

I will support efforts by homeless Portlanders to help themselves, like Dignity Village and Right 2 Dream Too. Communities of homeless people who are prepared to build their own shelters on private property and adopt and enforce their own rules against crime and drug abuse should be supported, not discouraged.

I will lobby the legislature to allow inclusionary zoning in Oregon municipalities. The 30 percent set-aside in urban renewal areas and tax abatements are useful tools, but with public resources diminishing, the city needs to be able to require, rather than just subsidize, affordable housing in new development.

If federal health reform stays in place, I will ensure that city bureaus work with county and state offices and with health care providers to ensure that adults newly eligible for expanded Medicaid are enrolled and receive health care (including mental health and addiction) and related services. The fire and police bureaus are obvious examples of bureaus that should be looking to identify and enroll people eligible for expanded Medicaid.

Read an in-depth interview with Steve Novick with Street Roots.

Mark White

Organize staff in my office so that specific issues receive additional advocacy and support. I will ensure that homelessness and housing is included.

Advocate for a housing levy to supplement existing housing efforts and allow us to focus more effort toward the resolution of homelessness.

Focus on job creation and economic development efforts on those who are typically marginalized in terms of employment.

Read an in-depth interview with Mark White with Street Roots.

Jeri Williams

As someone who has been homeless in Portland, this is one of the most important issues we face. We are not sustainable when our people are suffering and going without the basic human needs for everyone in our community.

First, I will support and push for more dollars for our safety net.

Second, I will bring together a committee of stakeholders with the most important voices being those of the homeless themselves, those being most directly affected by the decisions made. They will also have the most comprehensive ideas for solutions. We are going to have to work outside any box that ever existed and create a new way of looking at housing and homelessness.

With long and closed waiting lists, it is clear we do not have enough affordable, low income and shelter for Portlanders. We must do more to increase our housing stock as well as spread it equitably across all 95 neighborhoods in Portland. Creating poverty pockets only in certain areas is defeating our efforts to deal with this and we need inclusionary zoning.

I would like the see the Oregon Trail Card have a chip installed with a free or low cost bus pass to address the transportation issue in Portland as well.

Read an in-depth interview with Jeri Williams with Street Roots.