The second act

The great thing about elections is that the process is as important as the final vote. It’s getting the issues out there, putting incumbents in the hotseat of accountability and pushing challengers to bring something new to the table.

We asked five questions to  all the City Council candidates for seats nos. 2 and 3. All of their answers are available in the current edition of the paper, but we’ll be posting them here throughout the week. Here is the first question asked of candidates in the race for City Commissioner No. 2, currently held by Nick Fish, and being challenged by Jason Barbour and Walt Nichols.

1. Are you dedicated to ensuring that the 30 percent set aside in Urban Renewal Areas for affordable housing remains a goal for Portland for years to come?

Jason Barbour
This shouldn’t just be a goal.  Recent research highlighted on the website Portland Transport indicated that much of the housing in the region is unaffordable when considering housing and transportation costs.  At the same time, luxury housing in the suburbs and luxury condos not designed for the common citizen in unestablished areas of Portland are being sold at auctions for bargain-basement prices.  The three major problems with this are the housing was overpriced and overbuilt in the first place, so these supposed “bargain” prices are unaffordable to many; are located away from essential services, necessities, and usable public transit routes; and more importantly the houses in the suburbs are outside of Portland-proper, thereby reducing the number of people who can live in Portland.  All the while, the developers have blackmailed city and regional leadership to continue to build more of the same.  This is unacceptable.

Nick Fish
Everyone in our community deserves a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. That’s why I support the 30% set-aside for affordable housing in urban renewal districts.

During my first two years in office, we invested over $100 million dollars in affordable housing located in urban renewal districts. This includes $30 million dollars in the Resource Access Center for the Homeless.

The RAC is the cornerstone of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. When completed, it will be a one-stop center for people experiencing homelessness, with services, housing and shelter beds under one roof.

The 30 percent set-aside has made a difference — but there is still much more to be done. Too many people can’t afford to live in Portland. Too many families are living on our streets.  Looking forward, we must plan for a new, dedicated funding source to meet the growing demand.

Based on my record of standing up for low-income residents of our city, I have earned the support of housing activists throughout our community, including former City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury, Steve Rudman, County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, Marc Jolin, Lee Moore and many others, listed at

Walt Nichols
I’m uncertain if it is cost effective, given the current economic conditions. We first have to ask, what is the cost? How much is coming out of tax dollars for city and county services that are already not meeting the needs of all of us? How is this area being paid for? We have to have a balance. I propose that one of the best ways to keep housing affordable would be to lower the $20,000 permit fee. The plan needs to be reviewed to be sure we are providing the maximum amount of services in the most cost effective manner. We need to be addressing the urgent, immediate needs of the people currently on the streets, and planning for ways for the city to sustain and improve for years and decades into the future.

Comments are closed as of Dec 17 2012 to prepare for migration of content to our new News site.

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