Tag Archives: City of Portland

Right 2 Dream Too deserves city leadership

By Israel Bayer

The city should find a way to offer Right 2 Dream Too land to relocate the tent city currently occupying Southwest Fourth and Burnside. The argument that people shouldn’t be living in tents as an alternative to housing doesn’t hold a whole lot of weight when thousands of people are living in unfair conditions under bridges and in doorways every night.

Like Dignity Village, Right 2 Dream Too is an asset to the community. Both groups have found a way to work peer-to-peer with some of the hardest brothers and sisters on the streets, giving people the hope and discipline to have something stable in their lives.

The city subsidizes operating costs for many different groups that work with people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Right 2 Dream Too should not be considered any different. The group has proven to the community that they are organized and have what it takes to create a safe and stable environment for people on the streets.

Right now, the city and Right 2 Dream Too are at loggerheads. The camp is caught in a bitter dispute between the property owner at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Burnside and the city, ultimately leaving the fate of the camp in the hands of Commissioner Dan Saltzman and the Bureau of Development Services.

Commissioner Nick Fish and the Portland Housing Bureau should step in. If Right 2 Dream Too is going to be successful, it’s going to be the leadership of the Portland Housing Bureau that makes it happen.

Right 2 Dream Too has the support of local foundations, organizations such as Street Roots, and many other community members. It’s time for the city to support the group.

In a time of great need, when housing for people experiencing homelessness continues to be one of the biggest challenges in our community, we’re looking to both Right 2 Dream Too and the City of Portland to find a way to do the right thing.

Nick Fish delivers the state of housing, a Portland story

By Nick Fish, Contributing Columnist

This week I presented my fourth housing budget to the City Council. It is a good time to reflect on the progress we have made together, the challenges we face, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Building a New House

I ran for City Council on a platform of changing the way we deliver affordable housing to struggling families, the homeless, and the disabled. I pledged to work with government, nonprofit, business, and faith community partners to build a new house, not just renovate the old one.

In 2010, Mayor Adams and I delivered on that promise by officially launching a new bureau — the Portland Housing Bureau. We combined all the city’s housing programs and funding sources under one roof. Why? Because the old house was divided, and we needed a new, sharper focus on the needs of the growing number of people who cannot afford to live in Portland. Continue reading

SR weighs in on Office of Equity

We are a great city. And we are a city of inequality.

Without adequate shelter, people on the streets are criminalized by local government. African Americans are faced with staggering unemployment. Latinos and other immigrant neighbors are forced to go underground and hide family members and friends for fear of being deported. Refugees from war-torn countries are told to integrate into a new culture, language and economy on a dime. The LGBTQ community and others are faced with hate and intolerance, including being denied the rights of marriage. People with disabilities and the elderly are rarely employed. The list goes on, entrenched from generations before us. Continue reading

All the world’s a stage — street musicians

by Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writier

Walk just about anywhere in downtown Portland and odds are you will be serenaded by a stranger. But don’t take it personally. This is business.

For 16 years, street musicians, businesses and the city have operated under an agreement that allows performers their place in the sun. But now, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s office will dust off the agreement, starting with a public forum for all those involved.

The forum is scheduled for Feb. 10, and Sara Hussein, Fritz’s policy assistant, says that Fritz is hoping attendance will include a large number of street musicians, business owners, representatives from law enforcement, Paul van Orden, the city’s noise control officer, and the city’s ombudsman.

Hussein says the forum was prompted by a number of concerns Fritz’s office has received from street musicians and business owners about the Street Musician Partnership, which was created in 1994. Street musicians, the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) and the City of Portland are members of the partnership, which sets down rules and regulations for musicians playing on Portland’s streets.

The rules include mandating that a street musician can only play in a particular location for 60 minutes, then either take a 60-minute break and resume playing, or move to another location. Musicians are not allowed to play more than twice on a corner or given location in the course of a day. Street musicians are asked to understand the city’s noise ordinance, and to be spaced at least one block apart. Amplification is allowed, but if the music can be heard more than 50 feet away, then it’s in violation of the agreement. Continue reading

Mayor Sam Adams talks with Street Roots

By Joanne Zuhl and Israel Bayer, Staff writers

Support him or not, probably few people would want to trade places with Sam Adams right now. His first 18 months in office as Portland’s mayor has been saddled with a crushed economy that has hobbled the city’s financial status while fueling the need for city services. It has been plagued by ongoing flare-ups with police and the public, resulting in the firing of the police chief and the takeover of the bureau by the mayor’s office. And lurking in the shadows has been the rattling of recall efforts that twice failed to garner enough signatures to reach the ballot.

If it’s getting him down, it doesn’t seem to effect his game face, which more often than not remains stern and straight ahead. When we talked with him, he had just completed the 2010 City Budget — the 17th of his career working under former Mayor Vera Katz and now as mayor himself. This budget not only reflects the funding available now, but also projects a warning to bureau chiefs of the bumpy ride still to come.

Street Roots questioned the mayor about the budget and how he’s going to keep the so-called “city that works” working for everyone.

Street Roots: How does this budget stack up in terms of difficulty, obligations, priorities, etc.

Sam Adams: Putting together a city budget that balances basic services with smart investments in our city’s future is always challenging. This year’s budget was especially challenging due to the cuts to ongoing and one-time funds available. Fortunately, I work with a smart, dynamic and pragmatic group of colleagues on City Council. They fight for their bureau’s needs, but they also recognize the financial landscape we’re navigating through, and each is willing to compromise where necessary.

In terms of obligations and priorities, my first priority for this coming year’s budget (fiscal year 2010-11) was protecting the core services of the City and the services to help people most at need. It’s why I directed non-public safety agencies to cut 4 percent from their budgets and asked public safety agencies to target 2-3 percent. It’s also why I worked with Commissioner Nick Fish to increase funding to pay for increased shelter bed capacity, especially to meet more of the demand for women’s shelter beds. And, coupled with the Portland Development Commission’s budget, we’re putting $2 million toward construction of the Hooper Detox Center and additional funds toward the construction of the joint city-county mental health crisis center.

In the face of deepening county and state budget shortfalls, the City of Portland is going to have to find ways to fill the gaps created by other jurisdictions. When a person in our city is on the streets and needs services, they’re not saying to themselves, “I wish the county better funded these services.” They’re saying, “Who can I turn to for help?” So, I’ll continue to push for better funding for services for those most at-need, but I’m also committed to getting other jurisdictions — neighboring counties like Washington County and cities in our region — to increase their financial commitment to these services.

S.R.: You called this a recovery budget— what do you mean by that and what’s the forecast for Portlanders in the years to come?

S.A.: A recovery budget means that we’re not just helping people day-by-day, but that we’re funding the programs and services for people to make long-term improvements in their lives. So, for example, the Police Bureau’s Prostitution Coordination Team is about enforcing laws to curb prostitution. But it’s also coupled with a contract with LifeWorks Northwest, an amazing organization that helps women transition from lives in the sex trade to safer, healthier lives and livelihoods in the community. And I’ve continued to fund economic development efforts that help small businesses get access to start-up capital and storefront improvement dollars. At my direction, the PDC made administrative cuts that transferred $4 million toward economic development front-line programs. Continue reading

April Fools: Politicians jockey for any position that still has some money to manage

By Precious Comstock, Inquiries welcome

Multnomah County Commission Chairman Ted Wheeler resigned last month, accepting an offer to become the Oregon State Treasurer after Ben Westland, a beloved Republican, passed away with lung cancer.

A source close to the deal told Street Roots that Wheeler had been hard pressed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to take the position. The source said the governor knew that the only person to oversee the hardships of a state that is truly and utterly financially f$cked in 2011 was to appoint Wheeler, who has overseen the largest county in the state, which is also financially f$cked and will be for the foreseeable future.

Wheeler’s chief operating officer, Jana McLellan, who in the case of Wheeler’s absence or resignation would have to run the county, responded to the news by spilling her coffee all over herself and yelling, “There’s no f$cking way …” Continue reading

April fools: City looks to climate change opportunities

By George Itstroo, Now appearing nightly at Mary’s

Portland City Council recently adopted an ordinance to study the effects of global warming to determine whether Portland should plan for a “resort like sustainable atmosphere” in 2075 — after more than 25 million people are expected to move here due to climate change.

“Coastal cities to the South will be flooded, lush farming regions in the Midwest will turn to dust, and glaciers to the north will have melted and become major seaways. Disease, border wars, and access to water will all play a role in making Portland one of the world’s most premier and bustling urban hubs,” says a representative with Future Town, the firm charged with the new study.

The firm’s Web site bills the company as a consulting firm for the Northern Hemisphere’s future, and has recently been hired by several cities in North America, including Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Dallas, N.D. (Pop. 234), a town that is already claiming that it will be the new Dallas, after rural and urban communities to the South stampede the current Dallas after decades of drought.

The independent firm charged with the study is being backed by global business pioneers like, “Google to find water,” and Microsoft’s newly formed branch, “Operating systems to keep your family alive.” Continue reading

April Fools: City, County and State government confused about stimulus – Merkley says time are hard

dollarnote_siegel_hqFrom 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!)

Angry legislative aides lashed out at reporters Friday for asking questions about the economy during a roundtable on the stimulus package.

The roundtable, focused on how stimulus dollars will be used to help Oregon’s lagging economy, included representatives from the state of Oregon, Multnomah County and the city of Portland.

After a heated discussion turned into a free-for-all, reporters asked civic leaders when exactly communities would see the millions of dollars promised to the region from the federal government.

“We don’t know,” said a staffer at the governor’s office. “It’s not clear that we have figured out how to figure out how to allocate the money being allocated to us. It’s complicated.”

Asked by Street Roots if affordable housing money promised to local communities would be seen in the next six months, the aide said, “Look, even if we get the money, there are a lot of things we need to discuss before we just hand over millions of dollars to the dying private sector and drowning nonprofits working on these issues. We have a process in Salem.”

Asked what that process was, the aide responded, “I’ve already told you. We don’t know exactly.”

Street Roots has been told by insiders that the governor’s office wants the money allocated one way and the state Legislature another. The aide later denied these reports, saying, “Look, if we had it my way, we would completely do away with people living with mental illness and substance abusers, but we don’t live in a perfect world, now do we?”

One state representative from Southern Oregon told the roomful of reporters that they wanted control of slashing the state budget for Oregon’s most vulnerable citizens, and that the governor’s office was taking too much of the credit for the system being completely broken.

“Before any money is allocated, state legislators are going to require that every interest group working with affordable housing tell us just how miserable things are,” said the representative. “We just can’t allow for all that money to go to housing people like that. There’s a process for this stuff. We’ve already been burned once.”

Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler was the only politician willing to talk one-on-one with Street Roots after the roundtable. Wheeler said he’ll do whatever it takes to expedite the process of getting dollars on the ground for projects in the pipeline.

Continue reading

Human rights group returns to City Hall after 11-year absence

Nov. 27, 2008 (From the Nov. 14, edition of Street Roots)

New commission has the daunting task of protecting and advocating for the human rights of all Portlanders. (By Amanda Waldroupe, Contributing Writer)

Del Monte. James Chasse. Accusations of racism during the Cesar Chavez debate. A homeless protest in front of City Hall. “No Section 8.” What’s missing from the list?
A place where individuals can bring their grievances and charges of discrimination, bigotry, hate crimes and injustice to find redress.

That changed on Nov. 5, when the Human Rights Commission, charged with advocating for the human rights of Portland’s citizens, held its first meeting since being reassembled by Portland’s City Council in January.

“You folks have an important job in front of you,” Mayor Tom Potter said at the beginning of the meeting.

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