Levy, bond: The time is right to make a bold move

For two consecutive editions of the newspaper Street Roots has called for a housing levy or bond in the Portland region.

Also read: Region must work for affordable housing levy from the Nov 13. issue, and Push for housing levy coming from the grassroots by Amanda Waldroupe.

It’s time to stand up for affordable housing and homeless services in Oregon.

It’s not just about the thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the region, it’s not that simple — it’s much bigger picture than this.

Oregon, like many states around the country is not recovering as quickly as projected from the impact of the recession, far from it.

The unemployment rate in both Portland and around the state continues to hover in the double digits, while estimated hunger rates in the state have skyrocketed. This month U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that more than one in eight Oregon households have struggled to put food on the table over the past two years.

But it’s not enough to say that people are becoming homeless at alarming rates, or that the current economical environment hasn’t affected every sector of our society.

Common folks across the board are dealing with a combination of shaky predictions and risky outcomes that affect the future of their workplaces and families livelihoods.

The combination of job loss and the complex revenue streams that create affordable housing in Oregon has led to serious strains on our system. We would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t recognize as a community that some of those infrastructures are on the verge of breaking — the affordable housing and homeless front is one of them. Which in good times only affects a smaller portion of society, but in today’s climate, affects everyone.

Through our news coverage, Street Roots is able to connect with a spectrum of the nonprofit, foundational and government sectors along with people who are relying on these networks, for its sources. And we’re not hearing good news.

In fact, from everything we’re hearing, unless there’s a cataclysmic turn of events, 2010 is going to be a very hard year for many nonprofits working with people in poverty, and some will fall over.

That’s exactly why right now is the perfect time to build a movement across class lines, and tailored interests for not only an affordable housing stream locally, but nationally as well.

It’s a given that locally we need a bond or a levy for affordable housing for many people to survive. The question is where will the leadership and the funding for such an endeavor come from? Beyond housing and homeless advocates, it will take a broad base of labor, business, and government support to make a bond or a levy successful. It won’t be easy.

Nationally, housing and homeless advocates along the West Coast are standing up in unison to demand that Federal funding for housing and homelessness be returned to its rightful state — $54 billion short of what we spent on housing in 1979. (See page 12).

While many groups are standing up and pushing these ideas, many more stay out of the fight when it comes to building a larger movement for affordable housing and homelessness, and having these kinds of discussions out in the open. We think those times have changed, and it’s time to build a movement that supports all of our needs, as a community and as a society.

Creating a lasting revenue stream locally and restoring federal funding at the national level are the most critical steps we can take to make this dream a reality. Until then, we are fighting a losing war.

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One response to “Levy, bond: The time is right to make a bold move

  1. Pingback: Push for housing levy coming from the grassroots « For those who can’t afford free speech

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