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!

 

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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]

 

 

 

Rent Control is Racist Public Policy in Portland Oregon by Fred Stewart

The Portland City Council recently decided to impose rent control on the city of Portland. The city council members are going to use the next several months to craft a permanent rent control ordinance. This new ordinance, which is likely not constitutional,  will put a cap on rents in Portland Oregon and force landlords to pay for the moving costs for renters if they are given a No Cause Eviction, which in many cases will be extremely expensive and not fair to land owners.

What this also means is there will be higher increases in rental prices at the turnover of rental units. It also means higher fees to obtain rental properties and fewer rentals available. Investors are not going to develop more rental housing at a level that will keep up demand and rent control does nothing to decrease demand or address those important issues.

This means there will be a huge negative impact on the working poor. The hardest hit with these new changes will be the Black and Hispanic families currently residing in Portland. This will eventually lead to the City of Portland seeing an increase in the pace of which the non-white population of Portland, blacks and Hispanics, continue to move out of Portland; a kind of Black and Hispanic “flight” if you will because they won’t be able to afford the newer higher rental costs. This will occur not because of blatantly racist landlords and not because of any community effort to evict non-white folks from out of Portland. This will occur as a result of simply math. There are approximately 330,000 white people who rent or are looking for rental units in the city of Portland. Compare that to the only about 20,000 black people who rent or are looking for rental units in Portland.

This means that 1 in every 13 people in Portland is looking for a home to live in who are not white. Eventually what the consequence will be is it will be less and less likely that black people will have their applications approved for rental units in which to live. Not because of overt racism from the property owners but because the odds are stacked against the population in general. It is simple math, but it is also racist; a form of covert racism.

This racist public policy is the result of all white city council members who simply don’t care to make the equitable changes necessary that will be beneficial to people of color. To me, this means hard working black and Hispanic people who rent and voted for a liberal city council in Portland, did not vote for their best interests; though no fault of their own but simply because this is a very hard to understand issue and most people don’t “get” it.

The biggest issue in this is that the city of Portland has failed to develop more public housing. They have priced affordable housing out of the private sector with their massive fees and long turnaround times for permits and planned approvals. Had these policy makers not made it so difficult for private sector developers to create needed housing we would see more housing, and thus a wider range of affordable housing. And the market would have protected non-whites from being priced out, forcing them to move farther east or out of Portland entirely.

Metro has failed the black population because they should have stepped in and warned the city of this possible result by lagging in the development of needed housing in Portland. Metro should also have been willing to extend the urban growth boundary when they noticed the population was growing faster than projected.

So, now that we have a bonafide rental crisis, the only tool the city council has chosen to use is the tool that historically has caused lower-middle-class people, the poor and minorities to move out of the rent control market. This is racist public policy and unfair to people of color.

Too many people in Portland don’t understand the ramifications of rent control as well as I do, because they don’t have my history as a real estate broker.

If this unconstitutional rent control change occurs in Portland Oregon, it will result in Portland becoming an even whiter city than it already is. It will push out huge numbers of black Portlanders who have lived here for decades.

Approving rent control could one day be deemed the most deliberate act of unjustly evicting black people from Portland Oregon since 1946, if not in the history of Portland itself.

 

Fred Stewart for a Portland Youth Bureau. Vote Fred Instead!

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Friends during this election season we have discussed a lot of issues and they are all important. One of the most important is what can we do to improve the lives and opportunities for all of our children. Especially children that are in families that are struggling to just keep a roof over their heads. Portland must always invest in our youth through the up and the down cycles we face in Portland. ‪#‎PortlandYouthBureau‬

City Commissioner Candidate Fred Stewart with Dr. Don Baham

 

 

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Host, Dr. Don Baham, interviews guest about how and why he chose to become a political public servant in pursuit of his desire to be of service to his fellow citizens. Fred appears to personify dedication to progressive ideas and action.

 

 

Portland Youth Bureau

 

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My Thoughts on Providing Better Opportunities for Portland’s Youth

 

My plan to help at-risk kids get the after-school enrichment they need is one with roots that go back many decades. In this case, we should learn from our past as we prepare to address our future.

When we look at making our City safer and more equitable, we must consider the opportunities we provide for our youth. For 40 years, wealth and privilege have played too strong a role in determining the extracurricular pursuits of Portland’s children and teenagers. This is not just unfair, but deleterious. Kids with nothing to do are at a higher risk for dropping out of high school, pregnancy, drug use, and gang membership. As they suffer from these predicaments, society suffers as it struggles to help get them back on their feet.What the City of Portland must do is to reestablish a dedicated bureau tasked with promoting the health, welfare, and enrichment of Portland’s youth between the ages of 8 and 18. I say “reestablish,” because not only is there national precedent for such a bureau, but one also existed in Portland 40 years ago. Going without it has been to our detriment, particularly in an age when street gangs have proliferated and grown more violent and better armed.

A new Youth Bureau, run in partnership with the Bureau of Parks & Recreation and local nonprofits, would encourage and administer after-school programs for interested students. These programs would be diverse and plentiful: sports leagues, chess clubs, theater, dance troupes, arts classes, computer clubs, and language classes, to name a few. Everyone has interests, and the Youth Bureau can work to entice students to chase their curiosities and develop themselves physically, intellectually, and creatively. These programs would serve as motivation for students to work harder at school and would end “pay to play” for good. With an extra reason to do well in school in place, Portland’s students would not only live healthier, more positive lives outside of school, but would be driven to excel within the classroom, as well.

I propose that this Youth Bureau work alongside the Bureau of Parks & Recreation because it needs to be ideologically separate from the justice system and organizationally separate from the school system. Students must not be made to feel like they are being monitored by police, kept in extracurriculars solely to keep them out of trouble. Instead, they should be encouraged to take pride in their achievements and instructed by people without ulterior motives, even if those motives are positive, overall. Likewise, this Youth Bureau would be separate from the Portland Public Schools system so that it could be maintained independently of the state and county, and so that it could continue year-round, without having to accommodate the needs of the academic calendar. These activities should not be held hostage to the convoluted politics of the school system.

Some people might claim that Portland has better things to spend taxpayer dollars on than football, camping trips, crafts supplies, and costumes. Yet the cost of not engaging our youth is even higher. Day camp is cheaper than jail, and coaches are cheaper than cops.

If elected, I will help focus Portland’s efforts on its young people before they become a matter of law enforcement. We need to stop our current policy of neglecting our youth until they start to pose a problem. If we do not show interest in them, gang members, eager to recruit new blood, will. A well-run Youth Bureau is not only a matter of giving children and teenagers a better quality of life and education, but also a matter of public safety. Therefore, I will dedicate the same zeal to enriching these kids’ lives that I will to protecting Portlanders from crime

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