Street Roots is joining Commissioner Nick Fish later today (by bus due to a mudslide along the Amtrak line) — along with an array of city and county representatives, the Portland Business Alliance, and non-profit leaders for a two-day trip to Seattle to look at resource development and best practices for housing and homeless services.
“I’m excited to learn from Seattle’s best and brightest affordable housing experts this week. In the midst of shrinking budgets and increasing demand for help, we need to develop sustainable and flexible sources of funding,” says Fish. “Seattle has a proven model, and we are meeting with leaders in philanthropy, government and community development to learn from their experience.”
Due to the on-going economic slump and possible federal cuts to housing programs along with projected revenue declines, specifically through the tax-increment financing system that helps fuel affordable housing projects — the region is faced with various challenges when it comes to ending homelessness and creating affordable housing in the future.
This comes on the heels of the merger of the Bureau and Housing and Community Development and portions of the Portland Development Commission, a new strategic plan by the Portland Housing Bureau, and several new affordable housing projects launched this year.
The trip sends a strong signal that the Portland Housing Bureau under Fish, and the county are being aggressive about how to properly plan for the future of housing.
The group will be meeting with a powerhouse of Seattle foundations, both local and federal representatives, housing levy advocates, and the local Housing Authority to look at many of the challenges and possibilities outlined above.
SR will be doing interviews with different folks along the way, and writing a news piece about the trip for the March 18 edition of the newspaper.
SR is also taking part in the trip to learn more about the inner workings of government, foundations, the business community and nonprofits and how they relate to homelessness and affordable housing to better understand where to prioritize our news coverage through the newspaper, and advocacy efforts in the community.
The trip is being financed by the Enterprise Community Partners (Northwest) — a national nonprofit focusing on community development and affordable housing, and the City of Portland. (Street Roots and the Portland Business Alliance are paying for their own expenses.)
Those headed to Seattle for the meetings this week include: Beckie Lee, Chief of Staff for Deborah Kafoury; Margaret Van Vliet, Director, Portland Housing Bureau; Andy Miller, Manager of Strategic Housing and Planning, Portland Housing Bureau; Daniel Ledezma, Policy Director for Nick Fish; Marc Jolin, Executive Director JOIN; Jesse Beason, Executive Director, Proud Ground; Shane Abma, Vice President of Downtown and Central Services, Portland Business Alliance; Carly Riter, Government Relations, Portland Business Alliance; Amanda Saul, Pacific Northwest Senior Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners; and Mary Li with the Multnomah County DCHS.
— By Israel Bayer