City Council: Position 4
With the primary election happening, Street Roots asked the leading mayoral and city council candidates one question: If elected what three things will you do to improve the state of homelessness and affordable housing in Portland?
I will support efforts by homeless Portlanders to help themselves, like Dignity Village and Right 2 Dream Too. Communities of homeless people who are prepared to build their own shelters on private property and adopt and enforce their own rules against crime and drug abuse should be supported, not discouraged.
I will lobby the legislature to allow inclusionary zoning in Oregon municipalities. The 30 percent set-aside in urban renewal areas and tax abatements are useful tools, but with public resources diminishing, the city needs to be able to require, rather than just subsidize, affordable housing in new development. Continue reading
By Jake Thomas, Contributing Writer
Longtime community organizer Jeri Williams faces a tough battle against Steve Novick for the City Council seat being vacated by Randy Leonard. But this isn’t the first time Williams has faced a tough fight.
Decades ago, Williams was pimped by a gang and coerced into walking 82nd Avenue every night into the early morning hours. After escaping, Williams went on to become a labor and environmental justice organizer, and now manages a program in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement aimed at getting under-represented communities involved in city governance.
Now Williams hopes to make the jump from organizing to making policy. Williams is confident she has a fighting chance to win the seat if she can activate communities that often shy away from the political process. So far, she’s gotten the endorsement of former Mayor Tom Potter.
Jake Thomas: You said you’re disappointed with some of the things you see going on with the city. What are those things?
Jeri Williams: One of the frustrating things is the Last Thursday event and how long it’s been going on and how long the city has been paying for this party and just the inequity of it. There are a lot other things the city should be spending money on, not somebody’s party.
There are equity issues around the fact that we are making giant investments in certain groups of people, and those groups of people are the ones most favored by the people in office. And I guess people would say that’s politics; I think that’s the way it works. So if that’s the way it works, we need to get someone in there that cares about homeless populations, who cares about people who are not being heard. Continue reading