Tag Archives: BHCD

April Fools: Officials question Street Roots coverage on homelessness

From the April 1 edition of Street Roots. (The April Fools edition was one of the most popular Street Roots ever published. We sold out of the newspaper in a week and ordered more. It’s on the streets for two more days – get your copy while it’s hot!)

The journalistic integrity of Street Roots is being questioned by government agencies after it did not publish several press releases on homelessness as news stories during the past year. One insider said the newspaper had lost its way and could no longer be trusted on the issue. “Our research shows that reports mandated and developed by the federal government for funding are accurate. Why question the facts?”

Spokespeople for local city governments, the Interagency Council on Homelessness and the National Alliance to End Homelessness have questioned Street Roots for not getting in line and reporting on the real issues of chronic homelessness.

“Look, we know that people who have lived on the streets for more than one year are chronically at fault for their circumstances,” says a burned-out administrator from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Our goal is to get these people off the streets as soon as possible. We’re not necessarily concerned with their civil rights, but we do think their presence on street corners is bad for business. Our research shows that we can without a doubt clear these folks off the streets in 10 years.”

“Will people we house have jobs or be contributing to society in a year? That’s not the issue,” says the National Alliance spokesperson. “Our goal is to have as many people in housing as possible before another million people hit the streets.”

Interagency Council on Homelessness representatives agree, saying the root causes of homelessness are really not the issue. “The issue is people who are homeless, and, frankly, we’re tired of Street Roots and other street papers around the country questioning this. We wish they would stop their whining.”

One local official working with the Housing Bureau says, “Our strategy at this point is to just ignore Street Roots.”

Continue reading

Save vital BHCD funding!

homeless-giantx-1Street Roots believes it’s crucial to fund the Bureau of Housing and Community Development’s proposed budget, including the $6.7 million in one-time General Fund dollars, to preserve vital services and housing for people in crisis. We believe that in this current economic climate it’s critical that the City of Portland show leadership in funding and maintaining crucial services that impact low-income Portlanders.

In addition to BHCD’s ongoing funded programs, we support the following one-time funded projects in the city’s upcoming budget process:

– Supportive Housing: Rent assistance and services for individuals experiencing homelessness, including families, children, adults, and people experiencing mental illness.

– Homeless Prevention: Rent assistance to continue for the School-Families-Housing Stabilization Fund. – Shelter services for women, men and youth.

– Transitional housing operations for homeless youth.

– Public Safety and Livability: Preserve the day shelter and important resource information, as well as a sobering station, Hooper Center and Syringe exchange programs – Workforce development: Preserve Central City Concern/JOIN homeless employment programs.

– Economic Opportunity Workforce Projects, including Project Clean Slate and marketing assistance for micro entrepreneurs businesses – Microenterprises to support 19 artists involved in the Trillium Artisans Project.

– EOI Youth Workforce: Support employment programs for 214 low-income youth.

– Affordable Housing Homebuyer Access to continue to reduce the minority homeownership gap and to prevent foreclosures.

– Rental Housing Access and Stabilization: Support for a variety of services including 211 Info, Fresh Start, relocation assistance, Shared Housing, Fair Housing Enforcement, Housing Partnership Workgroup and Community Point web-based housing search assistance.

Many social-service agencies are seeing an increase in individuals and families seeking services due to the economic climate. We are living in extraordinary times and now more than ever people’s lives are in danger. We trust that the City of Portland will find the resources to maintain the essential programs listed above.

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Are we stimulated yet?

We know the stakes are big – nearly $800 billion in stimulus money, more than $80 million headed to Oregon for housing and community services alone, just over $4 million pledged to Portland for homelessness prevention, with potentially more waiting in the wings. And the winner is…

“We’re like, the envelope — please!” says Beth Kaye, the public affairs manager for Portland’s Bureau of Housing and Community Development. “There are many different funding sources and many different processes and many different funding formulas… So we’re waiting.”

They’re waiting for the 50-plus spigots of funding open up and begin the flow of relief into Multnomah County and all government agencies and organizations within as part of the American Recovery and Revitalization Act. The act authorizes $13.6 billion for public housing and homelessness prevention programs, organizations and agencies nationwide. Oregon’s piece of that pie is believed to be just over $82 million (although some estimates have been closer to $100 million) some of which will trickle down from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to Portland, Multnomah County and local organizations by early April.

In the world of affordable housing, the emphasis for using this infusion of cash rests on two main components: Preserving the thousands of affordable housing units that are at risk of disappearing over the next five years and resuscitating the low-income housing tax credit market for new development. Continue reading

Sight Unseen: City’s count of people on the street finds some, but misses the broad scope of modern homeless demographics


By Mara Grunbaum, Staff Writer

Want to fill out a survey?” asked outreach worker Brandon Schwanz of a young man on a bench outside the downtown library. “It’s so we can get an idea of how many people are homeless in the city.”

The kid laughed.

“Good luck!”

The streets may be a statistician’s nightmare. Still, every two years, Portland conducts the One Night Street Count to try to quantify the city’s homeless population. Over the last week of January, outreach workers surveyed people they found on streets, under bridges, in parks and in campgrounds. Social-service providers surveyed their clients. The one-page street count form collects demographic data and the answer to one primary question: Where did you, or where will you, spend the night of Wednesday, Jan. 28?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates the street count, and the simultaneous One Night Shelter Count, from any community that receives federal funding for housing and social service programs. The counts also give local policymakers feedback on how well their 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness is working.

The last Portland street count, in 2007, found 1,438 people sleeping outside. The shelter count, which is administered by Multnomah County, found 3,018 people in shelters, transitional housing or emergency rent assistance programs.

Schwanz works for Yellow Brick Road, an outreach team that targets Portland’s homeless youth. The evening of Jan. 27, he and two other outreach workers took street count surveys on their regular tour of downtown. None of them had given the survey before.

“It’s going to be awkward,” Schwanz predicted.

Continue reading

Head of BHCD resigns

Street Roots had been hearing lots of rumors over the past week about the departure of the Bureau of Housing and Community Development Director, Will White. Turns out those rumors had some merit.

Here’s the letter sent to Street Roots by White this afternoon. A letter sent out by Commissioner Nick Fish follows.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As you know, Commissioner Fish and Mayor Adams announced in December the creation of a new Bureau of Housing, combining resources and personnel currently at BHCD with those of PDC’s housing department. At the same time, BHCD’s Economic Opportunity Initiative will move to PDC, resulting in a Commission more strongly focused on economic development.

Along with many of you, I have long advocated for structural changes to create an integrated system to set policy for housing and homelessness, allocate resources to support those policies, and manage housing assets more efficiently.

As Commissioner Fish takes responsibility to lay the groundwork for this new bureau, I know that he wants to be free to create a clear new mission, develop a strong bureau structure, blend organizational cultures, and select new leadership. That is a very large responsibility, and it appropriately rests with the Commissioner of Housing.

To allow Commissioner Fish the fullest latitude to implement his vision, I have decided to leave my position as Director of BHCD effective February 13th. I expect that Commissioner Fish will announce his selection of an Interim Director for BHCD later today.

I am proud of all we have accomplished while working together for the last 15 years. I wish all of you great success in the future, and am confident that I will continue to be in close contact with many of you going forward.

Thank you for your friendship and support over the years.



Director, Bureau of Housing and Community Development
421 SW 6th Ave, Suite 1100
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 823-2380

Via Nick Fish…

Today I accepted the resignation of Will White, Director of the Bureau of Housing and Community Development.

Will has made an invaluable contribution to the City and has a notable record of service and accomplishments. Under his leadership, BHCD has achieved success with the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, empowered people to self sufficiency through the Economic Opportunity Initiative, and developed and preserved housing to serve seniors, families with children, people of color, and our lowest income populations.

It has been my good fortune, as the City’s Housing Commissioner, to have had the benefit of Will’s experience during my first six months as Housing Commissioner. I am grateful that he will continue his service with the City through February 13, 2009, and will continue to serve me as an advisor in the future.

As BHCD is preparing to transition its operations and programs to the newly-created Portland Housing Bureau, I do not intent to hire a replacement for Will. Instead, I will conduct a search for a director to lead the new Portland Housing Bureau.

I have asked the Bureau’s Deputy Director, Andy Miller, to serve as interim Executive Director. Andy will assume responsibility for leading day-to-day operations of BHCD effective February 13.

Kate Allen, Housing Policy Manager for the City of Portland, will continue to manage the City’s efforts to transition PDC housing and BHCD into the Portland Housing Bureau.

If you have any questions regarding the hiring of a new director for the Portland Housing Bureau, please contact Sam Chase at 503-823-3599.

Nick Fish

City set to streamline resources for affordable housing, homelessness and economic development

From the Dec. 26 2008 edition

Mayor-Elect Sam Adams and Portland’s housing commissioner Nick Fish announced on Dec. 16 the formation of a new city bureau.

The new bureau will replace the Bureau of Housing and Community Development (BHDC), the city agency responsible for economic opportunities, ending homelessness and economic development.

The new bureau will solely focus on Portland’s affordable housing stock and ending homelessness, including incorporating the housing development and finance functions currently at the Portland Development Commission (PDC).

“It’s a complimentary set of changes,” says Kate Allen with Nick Fish’s office. “The notion that we can create a new bureau with a clear focus on housing will give both the new housing bureau and the PDC much clearer direction.”

Continue reading

When is new housing not new? When it’s reprogrammed

From the Dec. 12 special affordable housing edition, “In need of a new deal.”

Portland’s efforts to build a net gain of affordable housing for its lowest income residents have failed more than the city bureau charged with creating that housing would like you to know.

In 1978, 5,183 units in Portland’s downtown core were affordable to people living at 0 to 30 percent of median family income (MFI), considered low-income. In 1984, the city’s Central City Plan mandated that at least that number would always be affordable downtown.

In an effort to get back to that number, the Portland City Council approved a No Net Loss Policy in 2001 calling for rehabilitating, preserving, and creating affordable housing in the central city through regulation and additional financial resources.

Since 1994, the non-profit Northwest Pilot Project, which serves the elderly homeless and low-income, has inventoried downtown affordable housing. The last inventory was published in 2007, and counted 3,330 affordable units in the downtown area, well below the 5,183 units the City has committed to retain. Continue reading

New housing bureau announced in Portland

Dec. 16, 2008

Via Nick Fish’s office…

To the Staff and Stakeholders of PDC and BHCD:

We are pleased to announce the formation of a new City of Portland bureau, focused on housing, that will replace the current Bureau of Housing and Community Development, and will take over its initiatives to increase affordable housing choice and end homelessness.

The new bureau will also incorporate the housing development and finance functions currently at the Portland Development Commission. We are charging this new housing bureau with the mission of meeting the housing needs of the current and future residents of our City, and we are vesting it with all of the tools, talent, and accountability to get the work done.

Mayor-Elect Adams has asked Commissioner Fish to lead this new bureau, and oversee the transition. Continue reading