Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic the City of Portland is fortunate enough to find itself in a strong financial position. In the latest available city documents, the city’s General Fund balance, or the money available in the General Fund, increased by $44 million dollars in the 2020-21 fiscal year. Meanwhile, the City also claims an unassigned fund balance, or money that they are free to use on new priorities, of $77 million. Given that the city is clearly financially able to do so, Unite Oregon believes that now is a clear opportunity to invest in real sustainable solutions to many of the issues facing our community and build a Portland that works for all of us, not just those who can afford to buy politicians.
Portland’s housing crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic and by the wealthy who have poured millions into advocating for temporary solutions. Meanwhile, Portland families struggle to remain housed, and neighbors and small businesses are left to confront issues of public safety and clean streets on their own.
Unite Oregon is calling on the city to address the root causes of our housing crisis by:
- Create long term housing solutions for unhoused Portland community members that contain sustainable job training
- Invest in more affordable housing and roads to home ownership
The effects of climate change disproportionately fall on our communities who are least able to prepare for and recover from heat waves, poor air quality, wildfires, flooding, and other impacts. East Portland neighborhoods are hotter, and due to lack of resources, more deeply impacted by climate crises like heat domes and changes in air quality. In 2021, a fatal heatwave killed 96 community members, many of which were underserved. These catastrophic events amplified the historic and present-day inequities experienced by vulnerable Oregonians. To mitigate these systemic inequities and foster public safety, Unite Oregon is proposing to build a Climate Resilience Hub equipped with climate-resilient features including rainwater collection, pervious pavement, recycling and composting.
Portland’s Diversity and Civic Leadership Program was formed in 2006 to build BIPOC, immigrant, and refugee leadership and civic engagement in the decisions that impact their lives. Unite Oregon’s DCL-funded PILOT Program builds long-term relationships between diverse immigrant and refugee communities in Portland and builds the capacity and voice of new communities to affect change. Since 2006, Unite Oregon’s PILOT program has graduated 280 leaders from 71 countries of origin. PILOT graduates have served as City of Portland staff: in the Mayor's office, City Commissioners' offices, Office of Civic and Community Life, New Portlanders Program, and Public Involvement Advisory Council. They are organizers, activists, advocates, and business owners. In short, PILOT graduates have gone on to use their leadership skills to positively impact this city in many, many ways. In today’s political environment, leadership development is crucial to bring new voices into public spaces. Unite Oregon is calling on the city to continue funding DCL funding and expand it for equitable outreach and leadership development across our city.
Solutions to gun violence and safety issues in our city do not have to rely on increasing police budgets or the criminal justice system. In fact, evidence shows that investing in communities and neighborhoods where crime rates are high will lead to better outcomes for our community.
Unite Oregon is proposing:
- Investing in neighborhood anti-violence programs proven to measurably reduce violence and crime, including those that have anonymous contact with neighbors
- Increase funding to the office of Youth Violence Prevention and continue to seek out partnerships with community organizations with the skills and relationships to address root causes of community violence
- Increase funding and staffing for Street Response to be able to handle more calls from people experiencing mental health crises
- Increase funding for workforce development programs in neighborhoods where poverty rates are high