Housing Bureau chief responds to SR editorial: New strategic plan needed in these times

Regarding “We’re losing ground; Time to charge” (Editorial in Aug. 10 Street Roots):

I have long admired Street Roots for its straightforward approach to covering the issues that most affect Portland’s homeless community. And as the new director of the Portland Housing Bureau, I was naturally very interested in your recent editorial inviting the City to “make the charge,” by tackling our current housing crisis.

I could not agree more. The time for bold, new approaches is upon us, and we must set about our work with creativity and an honest, strategic look at what is working and what is not. I have a personal sense of urgency around trying to get ahead of the economic mess that is wreaking havoc on our old housing strategies. What’s more, I am convinced that my colleagues in city government — including our elected leaders — absolutely share that sense of urgency. Indeed, these factors are what led me to accept Housing Commissioner Fish’s offer of the top job at the new bureau.

While it’s true that we face greater challenges than ever before, I have great hope. I am hopeful because in spite of the recession, tremendous progress is being made in helping those who need it the most: Portland will soon break ground on the landmark Resource Access Center that will help hundreds of homeless and formerly homeless individuals each day.

People who use a Section 8 voucher to pay their rent will have a much easier time finding a good apartment thanks to a unique collaboration between the City, the Housing Authority of Portland, and area property owners. One hundred five homeless veterans will soon have permanent homes, because housing and VA leaders here have made it a priority to change the way they do business.
And with the support of our partners, we are investing our share of stimulus funds into worthy and “shovel-ready” projects, allowing us to stretch our local dollars even further.

Can we do more? Absolutely. Do we need a comprehensive new strategic plan that reflects today’s economic realities, yet leaves room for flexibility? Of course. And can we do more to engage members of our community who most need a voice on issues of poverty? Certainly.

I am counting on Street Roots to continue to watch Portland’s housing system closely and offer insightful and challenging commentary as we move into a new era.

In the meantime, let there be no doubt: we have taken up the charge.

Margaret Van Vliet
Director, Portland Housing Bureau

3 responses to “Housing Bureau chief responds to SR editorial: New strategic plan needed in these times

  1. Glad to read an optimistic piece on the housing issue. One aspect that is troubling/frustrating for Section 8 apartment seekers is that they have to go find out on their own who accepts the voucher and who does not….not always advertised…..is there already, or could there be an UN-official listing compiled for such apartment seekers?…I know there are lists, but they don’t seem inclusive of everything that is available….

  2. madeleine, actually the housing authority has a list of landlords that for sure accept section 8, and a list of landlords that have been known in the past to accept it. i don’t think they can keep track 100%, because some landlords change their mind or their section 8 units are all taken, not available, etc. But hey! maybe I should publish a list that is updated regularly. thanks for the clue.

    —————————————————-
    “who will be the king and queen of the homeless teens”?
    –k cobain

  3. first impression, about this article and the housing lady’s response: I think portland’s housing problems area Oregon’s housing problems. Fix the zoning and land use laws that create barriers to cheap sites and building for lots of small affordable units for the very low income. And small inexpensive homes to BUY for the low income person. etc. (And enough about “affordable housing” that is really for the middle class, not for the poor who really need it. Address the needs of the lowest income and no -income people, please! not that you aren’t already aware or working on it. But some nonprofits i can think of use a lot of grant money on housing that is for people who can house themselves already).

    —————————————————-
    “who will be the king and queen of the homeless teens”?
    –k cobain

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