10 Nov

Housing must be top priority for Hales and his successor

San Francisco and Portland began at about the same time, in the middle of the 19th century. For most of the time since then, we’ve looked south admiringly and enviously, at a great international city.

Now, Portland Monthly says, San Francisco is what we fear to become. It’s not because we hate cable cars and great views. It’s because San Francisco is becoming a place where only rich people can afford to live.

Portland doesn’t want to get there. The cost and availability of housing is the greatest issue now facing Portland, expressed in soaring rents, people evicted and exiled to mid-county, and tents under bridges and overlooking freeways.

That issue should absorb Charlie Hales for the rest of their term, and the next mayor for all of his.
Hales has been moving in that direction, leading the City Council in dedicating more increment tax revenue to housing. We need more strategies for expanding housing options, and getting homeless people off the streets and out from under bridges.

Nobody thinks these are short-term problems, or fixable by a mayor in the last year of his term. But we also can’t wait.

We don’t want to be a city of only people in expensive homes, and people without any.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 11/7/15.

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