Candidate for Portland Mayor
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?
On March 10, weeks before the Mayor and the Governor started taking this crisis seriously, my campaign rolled out my “Covid 19 response” plan. I proposed the city should immediately place a moratorium on evictions and sweeps, while also fully investigating potential hate crimes unfortunately on the rise for our Asian-American neighbors.
I’m grateful for the leadership of organizations like Portland Tenants United that has been shaking the gates of city hall over the past month to make explicit the need for urgent, immediate action to protect vulnerable communities. As a former renter and a former small business owner myself, I immediately understood the significance of April 1st as a day in which the rent would be due for tens of thousands of Portlanders (both residential and commercial) who had suddenly been put out of work or lost the ability to run their business. It’s crucial that we develop public policy thoughtfully to ensure that renters burdened with either an infection or a layoff - as well as landlords caught in their own financial crisis - are given public support, so long as the public funding doesn’t subsidize landlord profit. I am fully on board with the covid-19 policy response proposed by Portland Tenants United; you can read my plan in full on my website: https://sarah2020.com/en/policies/covid-19 (4/5)
3.) In your view, what are the main causes of the current housing crisis?
The prologue to my “Housing for All” plan which I released this past January reads: “Portland has a housing problem. For too long, we have allowed the whims of the market and the drive for corporate profits to outweigh the public’s interest in promoting diversity, equity, and opportunity in our city. We’ve had our heads in the sand about what housing is “affordable” to whom. This has left us with a shortage of the housing that our people actually need. The taxpayer costs of this laissez-faire approach are staggering: the City of Portland is spending record amounts responding to homelessness without making a dent in the problem. We must come together as a city at this critical time to combat the gentrification, exclusionary zoning, segregation, disinvestment, and speculation that harms our communities.” I encourage you to examine this comprehensive housing policy platform at sarah2020.com/housing which includes ideas for strengthening tenants protections, building more affordable housing, eliminating racist exclusionary zoning , promoting community land trusts, making it easier for Portlanders to age-in-place, and supporting anti-displacement initiatives through ending speculation. (4.6/5)
4.) Do you rent or own your residence?
Own under mortgage (0/2)
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?
Make no mistake: with an Iannarone administration, Portland Tenants United will have an open door to City Hall, and I would intend to work with other tenant-friendly Commissioners and advocates to prioritize tenant protections in an aggressive timeline. A cornerstone of my Housing For All policy platform includes implementing a Five-Year Strategic Plan for Ending Portland’s Housing State of Emergency (2021-2025) led by the Progressive Task Force for Housing All Portlanders. This multi-stakeholder, cross-sector, cross-bureau task force will convene to assess housing inventory and needs of Portlanders across the income spectrum; evaluate existing and explore new revenue streams; and propose a coordinated plan to close Portland’s housing gap by 2025 through a combination of good governance, political courage, and fiscal clarity. This task force will focus primarily on exploring how to better align the overlapping bureaus to support housing needs, to properly articulate our goals for new units and tenants’ needs, and to explore new sources of revenue for housing access.
As for number six, municipalities absolutely deserve the right to institute more localized, flexible rent control laws than the state provides, and I will happily champion such an initiative. I will defer to the political strategy of the community organizations and pro-tenant lobbyists who know best how to stand up for tenants and win victories in the Oregon Legislature - as Mayor, I can publicly support your causes with my bully pulpit and direct the city’s lobbying team to help down in the capitol, and I will provide my support for any initiative that addresses our housing crisis commensurate with the emergency it represents to the most vulnerable tenants among us. (4.8/5)
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?
Tenants (and organizations empowering them) would be well-represented on my aforementioned task force, and I would proactively and deliberately ensure that we reached out to community partner organizations to get the perspectives of tenants with a variety of backgrounds, ages, across language barriers, and particularly raising up women and people of color. I’m eager to partner with organizations including APANO, Urban League of Portland, Disability RIghts Oregon, and Portland Tenants United to find appropriate representatives who can speak thoughtfully and personally about the importance of tenant protections and housing stabilization. (4.6/5)
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?
The mailers sent by MultiFamily Northwest were an absolute disgrace, and any future similarly shameful practices must be forcefully condemned and publicly shamed with the various mediums of communication at my disposal as a citizen, as a public figure, and as an elected official. I would have little hesitation using the platform that the mayoralship provides to loudly disapprove of such tactics that demonize the 42% of Portlanders who rent the home in which they live. Depending on the circumstances, I could potentially introduce a city ordinance to vote on at City Council publicly decrying such insensitive and inappropriate tactics, or write a letter co-signed by other elected officials across the region, with the intention of drawing attention to the crass tactics of the landlord lobby. (5/5)
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?
Landlord lobbyists have a right to exist, and I will happily engage with any that wishes to make good faith efforts towards advancing policy that provides economic and housing stability for working class Portlanders. However, with my election, Portland will likely have a three-vote majority in support of tenants’ rights; I’d obviously prefer to work with landlords and (organizations representing them) in good faith, but at a certain point it will become unnecessary to consult with them in the policymaking process if their demands are impossible or if their participation is clearly designed to stall or evade the policy progress that Portland’s working class tenants are counting on us to deliver. I’m committed to delivering tangible, economic safety and benefits to Portland’s tenants; if the landlords wish to be a helpful part of that solution, they will be more than welcome to help craft policy. If not, my administration will nevertheless govern accordingly. (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?
I am deeply frustrated with Portland’s lack of leadership in the last few years on many fronts, but especially so on our work to remain a Sanctuary City. In my “Rethinking Public Policy” document that came out last fall, I listed numerous ways that we can help protect our undocumented neighbors and community members. Portlanders want and deserve a true sanctuary city that does everything in its power to ensure all Portlanders, regardless of their citizenship status, will not be victimized by ICE, HLS, JTTF or other Federal forces. We must ensure that our citizens do not find themselves unnecessarily thrust into a criminal justice system that increases their risk of deportation or incarceration based on nation of origin, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or housing status. In an Iannarone administration, Portland Police would abolish all ties to ICE, remove all Joint Terrorism Task Force agents and cooperations.
You can read my full Rethinking Public Safety platform, which also discusses my ideas for reforming law enforcement, eliminating sweeps, decriminalizing sex work, and eliminating traffic fatalities, here: https://sarah2020.com/en/policies/rethinking-public-safety (4.2/5)
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?
As I stated in the previous question, Portland’s tenants desperately need that reliable third vote on Portland CIty Council. By replacing Ted Wheeler, I can be that third vote that ensures that we have a majority of candidates with unwavering support for tenants’ rights in our local government, and the capacity to move swiftly to override the powerful corporate influence that the landlord lobby has had on our city’s ability to provide housing stability for our neighbors.
In my Housing for All plan, I also propose creating a Rental Subsidy Reserve Fund. In addition to stricter short-term rental (e.g. AirBnB) regulation enforcement, City of Portland will revise city code Ch. 6.05.06 and 6.05.120 ‘Tourism Improvement District’ increasing rate from .02 to .04 with the additional .02 revenue going to renter protections programs and a rental subsidy reserve fund managed by the RSO and overseen by the RSC. Keeping rent (move-in and monthly) within reach for eligible families without a waitlist helps people evade homelessness and keeps our city in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.
I also testified at Portland City Council in support of the additional $900,000 in the fall 2019 budget bump on behalf of the effort to fully fund the rental registration platform.
In my administration, you will have a full partner in efforts to curb the excesses of speculation and disinvestment that have exasperated gentrification and displacement in our most vulnerable communities. My housing plan includes detailed policy proposals to chip away at the paradigm that every Portlander must conform to private homeownership as the only way to comfortably attain stable housing. I strongly support the rapid expansion of community land trusts, a significant increase in the number of public housing units, and new programmatic enforcement mechanisms to protect tenants as ways to help subvert the existing housing paradigm. On my watch, Portland’s government will proactively support these alternatives to our narrow status-quo in support of our housing, racial, and climate justice goals. (5/5)
20.) Are there other ways, besides those you have already mentioned, that you will champion housing affordability, expand tenant rights, and fight displacement?
Aside from one last plug to check out my full Housing for All plan on my website, I want to give a specific shoutout to my participation in the Open and Accountable Elections program - i have received over 2000 donations with an average size of $30, and I have capped my donations at $250. Meanwhile, the incumbent Mayor has taken numerous $5000 and $10,000 checks, including most recently from the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors. I mention this because it means that, as Mayor, I will be directly accountable to the public, not to corporate interests (including landlord lobbyists!) that would be able to buy my attention and vote.
I also want to express that I have personal experience as a renter, and I will bring this awareness of the precariousness of being a tenant in a West Coast city with a housing crisis to my desk at City Hall. I have rented much of my adult life. In 2003, my then-spouse purchased a home in which I lived but could not put my name on because as a stay-at-home mom I had no income. After our marriage ended, it took me a decade to establish the credit and stable income to finally qualify for a mortgage on my own… in a dramatically more expensive housing market that increased the monthly payment on the same house by nearly 40%. While I am immensely grateful for the white privilege, educational attainment, and secure employment that allowed me to finally secure a mortgage in my name, I remain acutely aware of the struggles that caregivers and non-traditional wage earners face in the housing market. “Rentlationships” are real: many people cannot leave relationships because they cannot find safe, stable housing. For people experiencing domestic abuse and violence, our lack of affordable housing becomes a matter of life and death.
During the past decade, I sublet rooms in friends’ houses, rented single-family housing, rented multifamily in housing downtown and in East Portland. Let me tell you, it’s less stressful and expensive to live 60% rent burdened in downtown Portland with access to transportation and services than it is to live 40-50% rent burdened in East Portland-- if you can even find rental housing (especially family-sized) that you can afford and secure. Waitlists are long, deposits skyhigh, and qualifying processes convoluted, arbitrary, and discriminatory. My experiences in all of these situations were contingent on the goodwill of my landlords in addition to my white privilege, stable income, and absence of economic or health catastrophe.
I ask for PTU’s endorsement in this race because I’m the only candidate running for Mayor that is a PTU member, and the only candidate that holds these perspectives, understands the nuances of policy, and shares your deep commitment to tenant organizing. I will have your back as you work to build power for rent-burdened tenants and stand up to the trespasses of the landlord lobby, and I will work tirelessly to advance progressive policy that directly addresses the current shortcomings to our existing housing crisis. (4.4/5)