An Inconvenient Truth About Housing In Portland Oregon, by Fred Stewart

 

The Normalization of Poverty in Portland Oregon

 

Portland Friends and family, I’d like you to think about something I find important socially and culturally, and also distressing. It seems that the world is changing and in many ways for the worse; those changes are happening in Portland as well. Perhaps what some consider “the new world order “is slowly taking effect here, but with those changes are coming to some horrible consequences that are going to divide this country. Unless social justice fighters and city leaders do something to maintain the idea and the practice of social equity for all, we will all see a new Portland being ushered onto the stage of our town.

For the last several months I’ve been doing all I can to help people I know and people I come across when they need to locate a roommate so they can survive with a roof over their head. More and more people in Portland are losing their housing. There are families living in vehicles, being put under all kinds of stressors in their struggle to simply have a place they can call home, a roof over their heads, a place where they can stay warm and dry, away from the debilitating effects of the elements and the sickness and disease that come from living outside. There are women alone, who are being repeatedly sexually assaulted because they cannot find housing, or are being turned away from shelters that are filled to capacity, living alone and terrified of the dangers of the street.

With my full-time work, as a real estate broker and my busy life, I’ve not been able to help as many folks as I’d like to, in their efforts to find housing or a roommate, but I’ve helped quite a few and I’m proud of that. But the most distressing thing I’ve noticed while interacting with these folks is that there has been a new development happening in Portland and it’s frightening, to say the least. A new phenomenon is happening in the Rose City. House-less folks, in their desperation, to find a place to rest their heads, most of them who are also working people are offering to rent out homeowners backyards!

 

Tent Space 11132017

 

There’s a bidding war going on solely for spaces like this so that folks can pitch a tent and sleep outside! And landowners are taking advantage of it. They are taking advantage of the desperation of working people who cannot afford to rent an apartment in 2017 because with all the move-in fees they might need up to $3,000 or more dollars just to move in, let alone pay rent in Portland.   I’m seeing people offer anywhere between $100 to as much as $600 per month for the opportunity to pitch a tent in someone’s wet backyard. For $600 a month they get to sleep outside in the wet cold, with no access to a kitchen, or even a toilet. If they’re lucky, they might get a landowner willing to allow an extension cord for electricity in their tent, so that they might be able to operate a small space heater, a hot plate or perhaps even a computer. Sometimes these folks ask for that extension cord out to the tent and access to a toilet, but it is certainly not assured. Many of these folks don’t even ask for that. How they are going to use a restroom in order to relieve themselves while they’re in their tent or near their tent I have no idea but think of how dehumanizing that would be! Can you? Can you even imagine the sense of hopelessness, the despair and the complete lack of dignity in having to live like that, and in being taken advantage of by property owners willing to do that?

Is this what we want Portland to become known for?

The bottom line is we’re seeing a frightening trend happening right in “keep it weird” Portland; a town known for its supposed activism, dedication to social equity and bigheartedness. Property owners are ready, willing and able to exercise a form of extreme economic power and control never seen before in Portland. They are offering little more than a patch of dirt for a struggling person or couple, or family with children and even infants to pitch a tent and live outside in the freezing cold for the price of what used to get a family of four a two bedroom apartment!

Are you wondering why this matters? Are you wondering if this trend will impact you? Well, friends, as an expert in the housing and real estate market for nearly 35 years, I’ve learned a few things, and you should be thinking about it because the reality is, you’re only ONE paycheck away from living under a bridge, especially now in the harsh and uncaring climate we see in Portland, Oregon. What this trend shows with crystal clear clarity is that a person need not be the wealthiest person in the market to be able to compete against others, and use what little advantage they have to gain monetarily from someone else’s misfortune, bad luck or desperation.

A person who makes just a little bit more money than the next guy can offer someone a spot to pitch a tent in their backyard. I’ve even heard of stories of folks renting houses who are renting out the backyards. That is the same reality we are seeing with our housing market when it comes to rentals. It comes down to supply and demand and what people are willing to pay simply for space to live. With 75% of new housing developments being constructed consisting of only luxury housing, where does that leave the Portlanders who’ve lived here their whole lives, who may also be low income? Where does that leave people of color, the elderly, or those disabled folks who live on a fixed income?

But the end result is that this pattern I see will create a shifting set of values that will in time become acceptable. Renting out tiny houses, renting out backyards is the beginning of a social and cultural shift in this country where poverty is being normalized and acceptable. Do we want a city of two people? The poor living in tiny houses and tents, with the house living better, with heat, kitchens, bathrooms? Does Portland want to normalize the rise of elitism, by normalizing the kind of desperate poverty?

Do we want a tale of two cities?

From what I know, all Portland need is more HOUSING. And we have the money to develop it. We need more adequate housing for low-income folks. Not tiny houses, not tents in wet, cold backyards but actual HOUSING that is affordable and not inflated. But that means the leaders in Portland have to value these things and also acknowledge that there is something sinister happening in Portland. Its a slow insidious form of elitism and its impact will gain momentum if we don’t do something to stop it.

What do you want Portland to be known for? Do you think all Portlanders deserve housing? Do you think poor people should live outside? Do you think this new city of the haves and the have-nots should continue in Portland

when it could be averted?

Email me with your thoughts, post a comment below or contact me via Facebook. I’m interested to know that you think.

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Press Release: Racism in Journalism Portland Mercury

November 1st, Portland Mercury recently published a factually weak article by Doug Brown, accusing Commissioner Loretta Smith of illegally “Raking in cash for a city council run.” They accuse Smith of improperly fundraising for her future political campaign. The article was not properly researched and is another example of careless racist journalism in Portland Oregon. This attack on Loretta Smith is another way white-owned and operated Portland newspapers can play fast and loose with the truth whenever a black leader is involved or has a position of power.

The Mercury doesn’t appear committed to accuracy in journalism if it concerns black people in Portland, even respected black leaders like Loretta Smith. For a Newspaper that appears to support The Portland Resistance, shouldn’t the Mercury’s young white reporters also check their facts? The City Charter amended their rules to make it legal to fundraise while also working another position and if they had done their homework, the Mercury would know that. Or maybe they knew already but just didn’t care.

This form of racial bias in journalism proves the point many critics of white liberal media have; that wealthy and influential white media do not genuinely care about African Americans in general, black Portlanders specifically and black leaders in particular. The Mercury also doesn’t seem to care about the role of black leadership or in how they are unjustly smeared in print.

This article by the Mercury is a humiliating demonstration regarding exactly how black leaders in Portland are held to a different standard. Would The Mercury have written such an accusatory and suggestive article about a white candidate running for office? It is unlikely.

Loretta Smith has shared information with me regarding the charter rule that was amended the first of January 2017 that allows her the leeway to do what she’s done.

I challenge the Portland Mercury to admit their factual error and their racism in how they threw Loretta Smith under the bus.

I challenge The Portland Mercury to APOLOGIZE to Commissioner Smith and all the black residents of Portland for their careless article. I challenge the Mercury to stop hiring only white staff writers and to practice what they preach about truly recognizing and promoting racial diversity and most importantly racial equity and equality for the black residents of Portland.

2017 needs to be the year Portland media makes some big changes if they expect to b taken seriously. This process begins when they stop excluding people of color from leadership roles or in political debates as happened last year. This process begins by not attacking black leaders as easy targets and smearing their names in print simply because they can.

Other national newspapers and social justice organizations are watching Portland. There are other individuals and entities in this nation who are watching “The Whitest City” in the country, including some well-known journalists and even The Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, and the Oregonian newspapers must learn to adapt to a changing political climate due to racial discrimination that continues to infect this country, and to the greater expectations that accompany that shift. These newspapers must stop promoting shoddy yellow journalism and the blatant racism that goes with that.

They need to hire more black staff writers, and journalists and focus on issues and black concerns. They need to stop merely talking the talk of diversity and inclusion. They need to start walking the walk and that means action, and doing.

 

Mulnomah County Charter
https://multco.us/file/55743/download

 

Portland Mercury Article on Loretta Smith
http://www.portlandmercury.com/news/2017/11/01/19436141/loretta-smith-is-raking-in-cash-for-a-city-council-run

 

Facebook Post to Fred Stewart from Loretta Smith

Loretta Smith Fred, I want to first say I am following the Multnomah County Charter rules.

Jules Bailey did the same thing last year when he ran for Mayor and the Portland Mercury did not do write an inflated story on his legality. I just want to be treated fairly by you and the press.

Secondly, I do not want a compliment from you every time you see me about my beauty or attractiveness for the rest of my life. That is not necessary.

You have have an important voice that is needed and should be heard on housing. Insulting my integrity and repeating misinformation will only distract you and others from your real gift and expertise on housing issues that must be shared during this crisis.

Many folks are not aware that there are new rules that former Commissioners did not have. Below are the new rules effective January 1, 2017.
All the papers have this too. They chose to give their story a different slant and focus. Sir, I believe you owe me an apology.

Peace and blessings to you.

4.20. Terms Of Office; Successive Terms; Running For Office In Midterm.

(3) Effective January 1, 2017, Commissioners of Multnomah County may run for the Office of Chair of Multnomah County mid-term without resigning their current elected office. No elected official of Multnomah County may run for another elective office in midterm without resigning first. Filing for another office in midterm shall be the same as a resignation, effective as of date of filing. “Midterm” does not include the final year of an elected official’s term. Filing for another office in the last year of an elective term shall not constitute a resignation.
[Amendment (ballot measure 26-76) adopted by people Nov. 3, 1998; amendment (ballot measure 26-78) adopted by people May 16, 2006; amendment (ballot measure 26-182) adopted by people Nov. 8, 2016]