Let’s not go blindly on housing into the next session

Alison McIntosh, Contributing Columnist

Too many Oregonians today are forced to choose between paying rent or buying groceries or medicine.  Too many of us are busy looking for work, holding down two or three jobs, hunting for an apartment or affordable day care, or trying to hold off a foreclosure. Many others of us are trying hard to sleep through the night while worrying, or while sharing shelter space with dozens of other people.

In February, the Oregon Legislature will convene for a short, one-month session.  This makes us anxious for yet another reason, holding our breath nervously in anticipation of what might occur in February. It is almost certain that we’ll hear more grim news about the budget, and we’re worried that the Legislature will act to do even more damage to our community’s system of support for people facing hard times. During the last legislative session, there were cuts to emergency housing assistance and other housing programs, severe cuts to child care and work support programs, and more. There’s nowhere left to cut, and many of these cuts have already gone too far.

We do need to be optimistic, positive and proactive, in spite of these hard times.  So, while we take comfort in talking about all the reasons we have to be optimistic, including the shift in the political dialogue about income inequality that the Occupy movement began, it’s also important to focus in on what we can do to be proactive — particularly as it relates to the Legislature.

The representatives and senators who will come together to face these issues in February are our elected representatives, sent to Salem by us to manage our public resources and systems to keep our communities safe and intact. As they go to do this hard work, it’s our job to step up and remind them what our priorities are as Oregonians, and stand beside them as they fight to do what’s right.

Looking around us, we know that the public structures and systems that make up our safety net are not meeting the needs of far too many Oregonians today. We also feel in our hearts and know in our heads that we can make different choices.  We can choose, as Oregonians, to help all of our neighbors get their basic needs met, and in the process, make our communities stronger and healthier for everyone.

Our state has tremendous resources at our disposal — hard working people, ingenuity and financial resources which can be brought to bear in order to build a better quality of life for everyone in our state. The state budget decisions we will make in February will reflect our commitment to making that future a reality.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up, or else we all go down, as one people.”

Some of us seem to have forgotten that it is important how well we do together as a state and a nation. Our state budget benefits high-income taxpayers and businesses while leaving many more Oregonians homeless or on the brink of homelessness than ever before. Let’s act together to make different choices — let’s choose to protect those programs which help people stay in or find a place to call home, to stay warm, dry and fed, to have a chance at opportunity and a pathway out of poverty.

We obviously can’t do this alone.  We need our elected officials to make choices about the budget that reflect these priorities, that act on the certainty that we rise and fall as one.  We need the Legislature to protect basic services and to seek every opportunity to raise additional revenue.

About: The Housing Alliance brings together advocates, local governments, housing authorities, community development corporations, environmentalists, service providers, business interests and all others dedicated to increasing the resources available to meet our housing needs to support a common statewide legislative and policy agenda. Alison McIntosh is a Policy Manager with Neighborhood Partnerships.

3 responses to “Let’s not go blindly on housing into the next session

  1. Most of these 10 year plans are all a scam. If you look at their founding documents they all contain the same language which is “appropriate and affordable.” The largest portion of the homeless population are single men who need immediate permanent employment. If they had that employment then they could get market rate housing and not even need this 10 year plan.

    The catch is that none of this 10 year plan housing is free at all. So if you are a homeless male and cannot find a job you’ll never qualify for the 10 year plan housing because in order to get this housing you have to pay. If you’re homeless without a job tell me how exactly can you pay? It’s not possible. That’s why I call BS on all of these 10 year plans. In fact many cities have ignored the plans and have no intention of seeing them through. It’s all BS.

    These 10 year plans do not intend to replace homeless shelters with some type of “housing first” intake system. The shelters will always exist with all of their crime, diseases, harsh atmosphere and prison mentality. I have sat on some of these 10 year plan councils and investigated them very carefully and I can say with almost 100% accuracy they are a total fraud.

  2. I don’t know if I heard anything in the article about a 10- year plan , but I have to say it was a bailout plan , once that 10 year plan was recognized, it gave public resources such as non-profits, and private or public donations a away out. I’m not talking about Oregon specifically, but I’m talking about the great state of Colorado.In 2000 when that so-called plan emerged all assistance stopped for the underprivliged. I know because I was one.I came to Oregon in 2008 with nothing and with all the programs, including Central city concern, I was able to pull my self up. Oregon is a Great state< with lots of diveresity.People are being sent from all over the country to Oregon, how can they possibly meet the needs of everyone, and I know no one wants to hear the truth, but alot of the housing is being eaten up by the foreign population the goverment is no longer taking care of AMERICAN CITIZENS..What I do hear in this article is it is time for communitys to get together and start helping each other with basic needs.I'm sorry but if anyone thinks the legislature or congress people are going to not make more slashes there crazy.

  3. The 10-year-plan was not intended to be a solution to the economic problems that lead to homelessness — it is simply a framework that helps agencies identify the most vulnerable folks on the streets, get them into housing and try to prevent others from losing the housing they have.

    Able-bodied single men are hardly the most vulnerable folks out there. Unemployed able-bodied single men who travel away from family and friends in search of work when there is little or no work are taking a big risk. There are evolutionary reasons that cause males to leave the herd — either they establish their own territory and their own “family” or they become Nature’s Expendables. On an individual basis, it sucks.

    The plans have been very successful in establishing that there is more access to housing for those who are physically or mentally disabled or who have small children outside stable family structures. They are not successful in countering fall-out from a world-wide economic crash or the flood of unskilled immigrants that now compete for jobs.

    I agree that Oregon is an amazing place and that communities really do need to get together and start helping each other with basic needs and that local is best, but I think that Portland has a head start over most of the world when it comes to putting people first.

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