We are four weeks away from a historic opportunity to vote for more affordable housing. It’s taken us a lot to get to this historic moment.
A little more than two years ago, Street Roots — along with a small group of partners (JOIN, Community Alliance of Tenants, Oregon On, Rose Community Development) — set out to create a housing and homeless coalition that would be able to build enough momentum to one day deliver Portland and our region the ability to create more affordable housing in our community.
The Welcome Home Coalition was born. We collectively hired a director, Jes Larson, and began to work toward identifying long-term revenue options that would support building affordable housing in our community.
The group looked at how different cities are creating more affordable housing across North America. What tools were being used? Could they be used in Portland and in our region and around the state? We did public opinion research. We began to build a case.
The coalition also started organizing. We went from a handful of organizations to a dozen, then a few dozen. Today, the coalition includes more than 140 nonprofit organizations, small businesses and neighborhood associations and growing.
We aren’t alone. Other coalitions that Street Roots is a part of have also emerged and are working on important legislation, including inclusionary zoning, tenant protections, and more resources for affordable housing in Salem and throughout our state.
In the past year, the Welcome Home Coalition has been able to support its partners doing important legislative work regionally and statewide, while also working to secure several revenue tools to help create more affordable housing. Those tools include a new construction excise tax, a short-term rental tax, and help creating more revenue to support more affordable housing in urban renewal areas. All of these policies will go to support giving thousands of people a safe place to call home.
In the coming weeks, many Street Roots readers will have a chance to vote for Yes for Affordable Homes, a $258 million general obligation bond that will support getting 3,000 Portlanders into housing in the next five years. The housing being built today will be built to last. It will be housing that we estimate will span generations and give up to 58,000 people a safe and stable home for decades to come.
Here are some ways you can help. Make sure you are registered to vote. Volunteer for the campaign. The campaign team and volunteers are working literally every single day. Take a day out of your week to come and help phone bank or canvass with us on the weekends. You can find out more at yesforaffordablehomes.com. Lastly, vote for Yes for Affordable Homes Measure 26-179 on the Portland ballot.
The need for more affordable housing in our community has never been greater. We’re hoping that together we can all find a way to collectively rise above the noise and all move in the same direction — a direction that will help give thousands of Portlanders the opportunity at a better life and a safe place to call home.
Israel Bayer is the executive director of Street Roots. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @israelbayer.