Candidate for Portland Commissioner, Position 4
Letter Grade: A-
Overall Score: 70/75
1.) Would you be willing to call for a moratorium on evictions, a rent freeze, a contingency fund for rental assistance and legal aid, moratorium on utility shutoffs, and an end to sweeps during the coronavirus emergency?
2.) Are there any additional emergency responses that you would call for other than those listed above?
I've already advocated for a moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs which we now have, I also led the effort to get Council to sign onto a letter urging the legislature to institute a rent and mortgage freeze and forgiveness. I support additional funding for homelessness prevention, rent assistance, rapid rehousing, and legal aid, but I question whether we have an obligation to ensure landlords are reimbursed for full market rate rent. Millions of people have lost their jobs, hundreds of thousands of businesses have shuttered, and we've seen billions in lost economic activity--everyone will be impacted. The state and federal government need to start by requiring lenders to offer mortgage forbearance with reasonable payback terms to prevent mass foreclosures--we do want not another multi-billion dollar land grab by Wall Street. I also support expanding deductions for landlords who forgive unpaid rent (there is a $25K rental loss deduction currently limited to small time landlords who make under $150K) and am exploring other relief strategies aimed at keeping everyone housed.
I am extremely concerned about the health and safety of our most vulnerable community members whether they’re incarcerated, detained, institutionalized, experiencing mental illness and/or addiction, doubled up, in shelters, or sleeping rough. We have to consider measures such as pretrial release, medical furloughs, and bail reform to reduce the number of people being incarcerated. And we have to utilize all our existing resources--schools, community centers, hotels and motels, etc. to ensure everyone is sheltered and safe.
As far as camp clean-ups and sweeps go, following work that my office led with community advocates, service providers, and city staff, we have a much more humane camp clean up policy than we did prior to 2017, and the city has once again decreased sweeps in light of this crisis, limiting them to sites that pose a significant public health or safety risk (primarily related to the health and safety of campers). Where we have fallen short is guaranteeing that anyone who is forced to leave a campsite has somewhere safe to go. I support and have been advocating for alternative housing/safe sleep sites on public property--and am actively working on getting sites opened now.
Finally, I will be advocating for significant additional resources from the state and federal government to get and keep people housed, as well as more funding for shelters, outreach, and street medicine. This is also an opportune time to advance long-term solutions to our housing crisis and for our most vulnerable community members. (5/5)
3.) In your view, what are the main causes of the current housing crisis?
Low wages, lack of adequate regulation and tenant protections, capitalism, greed. (4.6/5)
4.) Do you rent or own your residence?
5.) Are you currently a landlord? If so, in what capacity?
6.) Portland’s relocation ordinance currently kicks in at a rent increase at 10% or above. Would you favor lowering the amount that triggers relocation payments if a rent increase forces tenants to move?
7.) If elected, would you work to overturn the state of Oregon’s preemption preventing local rent control measures?
8.) If you answered yes to #6 and #7, how would you champion or advocate for the changes needed? What are your priorities and timeline?
The Relo trigger was set at 10%--much higher than I wanted--to ensure the policy was legally defensible, which it has proven to be. We need a freeze on rent increases during this emergency and recovery, which should happen now and I am advocating for, and we need to the state to overturn the ban on rent control, which should be taken up in the next session. (4.2/5)
9.) If elected, would you support the right of tenants to collectively bargain their leases and rent?
10.) Would you support an effort like the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, that would allow tenants, delegated non-profits, or the City the first opportunity to buy a house or housing complex when the owner puts it up for sale?
11.) If elected, would you support a requirement for tenant legal representation during eviction proceedings, including a mechanism to provide it? Would you support allowing non-attorney advocates for tenants?
12.) If elected, would you ask Portland Tenants United to participate in any community engagement process that involves tenant law or housing justice issues?
13.) How would you ensure that policies and processes which affect tenants meaningfully include impacted renters, and reflect the diversity of the tenants affected?
My office is committed to community engagement and centering racial equity in all the policies we develop. We create policies hand in hand with community, which is the opposite of how most policy gets developed. I believe that impacted communities are their own best experts on their needs and challenges and how to address them and avoid unintended consequences. I also believe in restorative justice, and as an elected representative of a Council that has caused grave harm to BIPOC and low-income communities, I don't believe it's my place to determine the remedy. (4/5)
14.) Would you refuse or return campaign contributions from Multifamily NW's Equitable Housing PAC, The Good Landlord PAC, More Housing Now! PAC, or similar real estate industry PACs?
15.) During the hearings for the Fair Access in Renting (FAIR) ordinances, MultiFamily Northwest led an information campaign based upon misleading, inaccurate, and racist claims. How would you hold landlord groups accountable when they spread dangerous misinformation?
Considering I was one of the targets of this campaign, I'm very interested in this issue. Political speech isn't covered by truth in advertising laws, but there are state laws prohibiting misinformation in political materials (ORS 260.532). However, the aggrieved party has to sue and the damages are quite small. I would be interested in exploring whether these laws could be strengthened at the state level, and passed at the local level. Policies should be debated on their own merits. I have no respect for individuals or organizations that engage misinformation campaigns. (4.2/5)
16.) Landlords and lobbyists have often walked away from political processes if they didn’t get everything they want. How will you respond if landlords and lobbyists refuse to engage in good faith toward a tenant friendly solution to some housing crisis problem?
Business interests aren't used to not calling the shots at City Hall and we need to keep it that way. While I strive to be inclusive and consider all sides of an issue, I don't need every landlord or lobby group to participate or agree with our work on housing and tenant protections. There is plenty of expertise to draw from, both locally and nationally, including a growing number of ethical landlords that recognize how harmful some of the accepted standard practices of their industry are. (5/5)
17.) Do you support maintaining and strengthening Portland's status as a Sanctuary City? How will you work to protect tenants from discrimination or retaliation based on their immigration status?
Absolutely. It's been one of my top priorities since I took office. My office helped make our sanctuary city policy stronger, we lead the creation and work of the Sanctuary City task force which identified universal defense as the top priority, and we successfully got it funded. In the FAIR ordinance we require landlords to accept multiple types of ID and we've considered other measures we could take to decrease discrimination. California and Illinois both have Immigrant Tenant Protections Acts, it's time for Oregon to follow suit. (4.8/5)
18.) Environmental upgrades to old buildings is a necessary tool in the fight for environmental justice but could lead to displacement without strong tenant protections. Would you support strengthening the anti-displacement and tenant protection intention expressed in the Portland Clean Energy Fund ordinance by adding more specific enforcement measures to the ordinance and to similar future policies?
19.) What other tenant protections would you advocate? What would be your plan to enact changes?
I want the United States to officially recognize housing as a human right and ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I want Oregon to adopt a Right To Shelter policy. Both of these actions would require a huge push from advocates, electeds, and the public. (4/5)
20.) Are there other ways, besides those you have already mentioned, that you will champion housing affordability, expand tenant rights, and fight displacement?
I'm interested in removing as many units from the private market as possible, whether for rentals or land trust ownership. I'd like to see any many NOAH buildings converted to co-ops for existing tenants, the ability to use the Community Investment Trust model for residential properties. I advanced an anti-displacement directive to develop in the 2019 budget and we're about to grant funds to establish a community led anti-displacement task force. I also support raising the minimum wage, expanding workers rights, protecting unions, free public college, universal healthcare and a host of other progressive policies that, while not directly related to affordable housing, will greatly improve people's access to stable housing. (4/5)