Tag Archives: Housing Alliance

Homeowners facing foreclosure need accurate information

By Janet Byrd, Contributing Columnist

A stable place to call home gives people the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. The thousands of Oregonians facing the uncertainty of foreclosure have new hope for stability because of recent legislative action.

One out of every five Oregon homeowners is “under water” and owes more on their home than it is worth. One out of 11 is either in default or is 30 days late on their mortgage payments.  These financial strains have repercussions throughout families and communities. Foreclosures are a drain on physical health, and the stress makes family life harder. Because owning a home plays such an important role in maintaining a household’s financial stability, foreclosures have impacts for many years on family opportunities and prospects, including education and employment. Communities are hurt by foreclosures as well — by vacant homes, a loss of community vitality, and decreased home values. The recent Street Roots cover story (“Boarded up,” May11) highlighted the problems caused if these vacant homes are not maintained. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

How housing faired at the past session in Salem

by Alison McIntosh, Contributing Writer

Looking ahead to February 2012 — our voices can create housing opportunity. The State Legislature has been adjourned for over two weeks now, and we’re a little more than two weeks into the new state budget.  The dust is settling, but the full impact of the work of the Legislature on Oregonians struggling to make ends meet won’t be known for many months.

We all need a safe, stable place to call home.  Our state and our communities are stronger and better when everyone has access to opportunity, which comes from having a place to call home.

The Oregon Housing Alliance — a coalition of organizations from across the state concerned about the lack of affordable housing — has worked along with other housing advocates since 2004 to secure the resources we need to create strong communities across Oregon.  Continue reading

Getting the policy ball moving forward begins with how we craft the message

Janet Byrd is a walking brain trust on housing issues and messaging. Working behind the scenes locally and with Elected officials in Salem, she has helped push forward a housing agenda statewide that is supported by scores of organizations, and individuals.

Byrd is currently the executive director of Neighborhood Partnerships, which works to create opportunities for low-income people. Byrd cut her teeth in neighborhood organizing in Chicago, working on housing issues such as insurance redlining, neighborhood disinvestment and tenant rights.

At Neighborhood Partnerships, Janet has been central to the success of the statewide advocacy coalition, the Housing Alliance.During her tenure, Neighborhood Partnerships also helped launch the innovative multi-county collaborative to serve high-need homeless families, Bridges to Housing, and quadrupled the impact of the Oregon IDA Initiative, a unique statewide partnership that builds the assets of low income Oregonians.

Street Roots recently talked with Byrd about the work she does, and the political climate we find ourselves in.

Israel Bayer: Can you talk about the messaging and framing work you are involved with and what you’ve found out over the past few years?

Janet Byrd: Neighborhood Partnerships has had the privilege of working with some wonderful experts in strategic communications this past year and a half, including Patrick Bresette of Demos and Larry Wallack of Portland State. We’ve been training and supporting a group of more than 60 leaders and advocates from a broad swath of issue concerns in our trainings, our Leadership Salons and our Advocates College.

We’re just coming to the end of the Advocates College now, and what I hear back from participants is that they’ve been able to use some of the new knowledge and skill in their work in Salem, in their communities, and within their networks.

The most exciting thing we’re doing is honing skills to create the terrain for new conversations. Rather than getting stuck in polarized positions, we are now better able to move toward policy change by carefully choosing words and the order of the concerns raised.

We’ve probably all been in a situation where the conversation we set out to have isn’t the conversation we end up having. We may be trying very earnestly to answer a question and realize mid-stream that we have no clear idea of what understanding lay behind the question, what viewpoint was shaping it.

That viewpoint is what the messaging folks call a frame. It comes from the recognition that humans aren’t blank slates. We walk around with preconceived understandings of the world and new information is slotted into pre-existing “frames.” All too often we don’t stop to think about what those frames are in our listeners. The result is that we’re talking, but we aren’t really having a conversation.

Where before we might end up getting angry or polarized, we now know that it’s possible to step back, spend some time analyzing and listening, and then re-engage in a different conversation. Sometimes the solution is to re-connect to the values that motivate our concern about the issue, because values shape thinking and create an emotional connection. Sometimes the solution is to offer a new way of thinking or naming something, so that you aren’t triggering a negative response. And sometimes it’s thinking about how you want to structure a conversation — the order of your points. Continue reading

Holding up the roof at the House

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

The Housing Alliance is finalizing its advocacy agenda for the 2011 legislative cycle and preparing the case it will make to the state Legislature regarding why the state should support and, in some cases, bolster affordable housing programs.

In a year when the state’s general fund has a $3.5 billion shortfall and the Legislature will make massive cuts to state-funded programs, this is a Sisyphean task

“This is not a good year to be asking the Legislature for money,” says Beth Kaye, the Portland Housing Bureau’s legislative affairs manager.

“There are already proposals circulating from all sides looking at really devastating cuts to the network of support,” says Janet Byrd, the executive director of Neighborhood Partnerships and chair of the Housing Alliance, referring to cuts to welfare programs, mental health, drug addiction treatment programs, and others. Continue reading

Oregonian article and ways to follow up…

In today’s Oregonian Street Roots outlines different ways our region can move forward on homelessness.

Here are some ways you can follow up on the article.

Currently, Portland and many communities around the state are asked to end homelessness under the auspices of federally mandated programs with few dollars in tow. The first step is to assure passage of the National Housing Trust Fund, which would inject more than $1 billion into helping local communities.

Sign on to a letter today, and make your voice heard.

At the state level, the Housing Alliance (of Oregon) is working on an in-depth housing agenda in Salem. You can sign up to be on their newsletter and RSVP to take part in a lobby day taking place on February 14. Go here for more information.

Locally, stay tuned. Street Roots will be outlining up and coming advocacy actions and ways to be involved throughout 2011.

Posted by Israel Bayer