Candidates Forum

Question 3

Portland has struggled to find a way to increase affordable housing and density in a way that doesn’t displace large numbers of lower-income families, destroy older affordable homes to create new, more expensive units, and negatively impact our city’s environmental footprint.

Corinne Patel, Commissioner Position 1 candidate

I believe in collaborating with all stakeholders. Each neighborhood will have differing needs, its part of what makes Portland so weird and unique. I would rather see a single family home divided than torn down. I believe that buildings are incredibly adaptable and great change can happen inside with no visible exterior change. I believe in designing programs that understand the cost of maintaining property sometimes sacrificies the property. I would like to see us focus on ways to keep people in their homes and provide them resources to maintain those homes. I believe we have a beautiful city that needs us to hold and nurture over rushed and new. I think we have a pleatora of good programs currently, but no one knows about them. (Example: building a tiny home in the backyard).

Diana Gutman, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

By making housing policies inclusive we can ensure that housing is accessible to everyone that calls Portland home. I support the Basic Needs proposal in the 2020 Multnomah county legislative action plan. If approved this proposal will help combat the housing crisis that we are experiencing by building affordable housing for people and families with zero to moderate income. I support Cully’s anti-displacement program to prevent the displacement of low-income residents and people of color from the Cully neighborhood. I will always support anti-displacement policies and affordable housing. I believe that the Residential Infill Project can have a positive impact in our community and the City of Portland. While affordable housing is a crucial component to addressing the housing crisis, I believe that it is also vital to designate transitional housing for specific transitional needs. Whether you’re from the homeless community or a Survivor of abuse trying to flee an abusive situation. Safe housing is a human right! I believe that if we were to come up with programs to further help our community partners and landlords; we could bridge that gap and identify ways that we can actually protect those in need and serve our community. Public safety is a community effort.

Julia DeGraw, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

Portland has been hamstrung by the single-family zoning restrictions, and it also suffers from an unnecessarily complicated, often arduous, and expensive permitting system. With the Residential Infill Project, the City can incentivize deeply affordable housing by building multiplexes on corners, exploring land bank and land trust models, tiny house villages, modular housing, cooperatives, and co-housing solutions. There has been an unwillingness to streamline the permitting process for far too long, and we have been unable to build the kind of affordable multiplex housing that is needed to truly get affordable housing in the market at any kind of scale.

Anti-displacement is also something the City talks about a great deal, including in its Comprehensive Plan, but fails to actually act on. Anti-displacement policies only work if they are enforced and if the City actually follows through on requiring and incentivizing permanently affordable housing, not just subsidized housing.

The RIP only allows new multiplexes to be built on corners and requires that they be built in a style similar to the rest of the neighborhood. This is a good compromise to help us achieve affordable housing while preserving neighborhoods’ look and feel. As stated earlier, stricter regulation of demolitions of buildings, particularly historic ones, needs to be seriously considered. If demolition occurs, there must be lead and asbestos abatement processes, all the reusable parts should be donated to nonprofits and businesses across town that sell repurposed doors, windows, light fixtures, etc (like ReStore and the Rebuilding Center), as much of the waste as possible should be locally recycles, and must use the most sustainable and environmentally-safe demolition practices to ensure the least amount of damage to the environment and public health.

Sam Chase, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

The success of residential infill depends on community acceptance that fits the character of our individual neighborhoods. I will create a residential infill competition for the best designs in a range of categories from duplex to fourplex to sixplex affordable. The best designs will be selected by a community of neighborhoods, architects, culturally specific communities, builders, and others, in a way that will generate broad support for designs and sizes that better fit the character of neighborhoods. Winning designs will receive an award but will then be surrendered to the public domain. Approved designs will be available free to builders, along with streamlined pre-development, zoning approval, and permitting such that there will be an incentive to utilize designs that fit better with community priorities. Moreover, incentives will be evaluated for projects that more appropriately fit a neighborhood.

Additionally, I will:
• Build the Albina Vision to provide restorative justice for the African American community that was displaced in the 1950s, infrastructure that will attract dense market and affordable residential development and encourage centralized residential living with alternative modes of transportation. I will build on the work that I championed at Metro to secure major affordable housing, park, and open space funding to support the Albina Vision.
• Support preference policies that allow former neighborhood residents to have the first rights to affordable housing.
• Provide grants for small businesses to restore and maintain their presence in communities as Portland works to bring our economy back from the devastating effects of coronavirus.
• My plan referenced above will improve people’s ability at all income levels to create additional units on their existing lots such that they can reduce their housing payments and create more affordable housing at the same time.

Terry Parker, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

Portland’s Comprehensive Plan designates town centers, major corridors and close-in to transit centers as the places to locate multi-family housing. Within this plan there is already enough land zoned for multi-family to meet Portland’s need for additional housing. Triplexes and quadplexes etc. should be restricted to these areas. Most Portland neighborhoods have one or more of these types of locations likely satisfying the directives in HB2001. RIP was never designed to make housing more affordable. Better Housing by Design Standards for most multi-family developments mandate inclusionary zoning with a requirement for the units that are regarded as affordable to be identical to the market rate units. This seems unfair to the households paying the higher full market rent price. From my prospective, it could be less costly to developers and more equitable for renters paying full market rate rents to require for-profit developers (as part of the permitting process) to construct a separate number of affordable units with basic amenities proportional to the number of market rate units they build, or subsidize non-profit developers to do so. More non-profit developers are also needed to develop affordable pilot projects and identify any impacts, particularly if they are constructed close-in to single-dwelling zoned neighborhoods. What I oppose is an affordable housing bond measure paid for by increasing property taxes that in turn will increase housing costs for both homeowners and non-subsidized renters. Such a move would have negative financial impacts on self-sufficient working class families with modest incomes and senior citizens on fixed incomes, likely even creating gentrification. Also, approving RIP and allowing more units to be built on a standard single-dwelling lot sizes will increase the value of the land and therefore create an increase in the costs of housing in all neighborhoods.

Aquiles U Montas, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

My approach is to build in empty lots and buildings around the city and build new housing developments that are a combination of single, apartments, and condos that would be priced for much different income levels. The word affordable is an unrealistic word that is not real to the working class. I stand to stop demolishing single homes for multilevel units, they are creating more problems than solving, they must retain their uniqueness. Go outside the inner-city neighborhood areas. Portland has one of the best public transportation systems and for that must look at available empty spaces.

Tera Hurst, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

Safe, accessible housing is a human right, and I want to make it a priority that every person has supportive communities. So while we do need more housing, especially affordable housing, it is also important to maintain the character of communities so that residents feel supported and empowered by both their housing options and the communities that surround those houses. As with so many pieces of city policy the devil is in the details. The in-fill construction that we know we need to address our housing crisis needs to be compatible with the character and style of the neighborhoods where it is being done. I think that this means neighborhood associations should be brought into the process. It is also important to involve people who have an equity stake in our neighborhoods. We do not want to be pricing out traditional residents who have given neighborhoods their character.

As someone who has worked in City Hall as Mayor Charlie Hale’s Chief of Staff, I know that the key to sustainable affordable housing is having stakeholders engaged in a robust process so that we are respecting the people who know, love and support their neighborhoods. It is not enough to signal values. We need leadership that can do the job on day one to make sure that people and policy goals do not fall through the cracks. I have that experience and leadership and will be able to be an advocate for livable, walk-able neighborhoods from day one.

Sam Adams, Commissioner Position 4 candidate

Portland is a city of neighborhoods. While previously serving on City Council, I worked to make the concept of a 20-minute neighborhood a reality. Preserving the individual character of our neighborhoods and the communities that make them their home is key. At the same time, we need to diversify our housing stock to ensure that Portlanders at every economic scale can afford to stay here.

You can read more about my housing plan at

Aaron Fancher, Commissioner Position 4 candidate

I will talk to landlords about ways to keep rent increases to a minimum and preserve older houses.

Mingus Mapps, Commissioner Position 4 candidate

Multnomah County has a shortfall of 29,000 units of affordable housing. Several factors are behind this deficit. In recent decades, Portland’s population has grown dramatically, driving up the demand for housing. Wages for Portland’s working families have not kept up with rising housing costs. None of the City’s programs to bring more affordable housing to Portland have worked. That is why I want to try a new approach. I think it is time we create policies that incentivize building more affordable housing and preserve our existing stock of affordable homes. We can accomplish this by building more densely, especially along commercial corridors with good access to public transit and expanding our partnerships with community development corporations.

Sarah Iannarone, candidate for Mayor

Portland’s current shortage of housing that the average wage-earner can afford is certainly more symptom than cause. In Portland today, many families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing while Wall Street banks rake in record-breaking billions in profits. Portland families are struggling to pay for food, transportation, health care, and childcare on top of their rent or mortgage. While many of our neighbors are barely making ends meet, many others tip into homelessness when they cannot. At the root of our housing crisis are the same set of policy decisions that cause poverty, segregation, displacement, inadequate infrastructure, unsafe living conditions, and insecurity for renters. We need to rethink our priorities as a community to focus on raising household incomes, reducing racial and economic segregation, and ending rampant speculation without benefit to local residents.

We need to treat this situation with the requisite urgency. I have called for a Five-Year Action 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.

Teressa Raiford, candidate for Mayor

Having equal access to housing is a human right. I want to utilize the opportunity to restore and rehabilitate existing structures to provide housing and transitional support systems for our vulnerable communities. By renegotiating Portland’s relationship with developers, we will advocate for more truly affordable housing for populations who are being displaced by rising rents. I plan to utilize some of what we’re learning during this pandemic crisis in regards to the response and care we are providing communities and I’d like to continue building those innovative access points to establish my administration.

Mark White, candidate for Mayor

I have a paper on my campaign site that discusses a couple of different pathways for addressing our homelessness and affordable housing issues. It can be accessed via this link —

For me, our housing affordability issue is caused by greed. My approach to solving it is as equally straightforward. Make it more profitable to provide affordable housing thru tax incentives and less profitable to provide higher priced housing thru tax penalties.

I really appreciate the question on connecting social equity and other issues to neighborhoods throughout the City. There is serious disparity on multiple levels in Portland and I intend to focus on those who have effectively been invisible to City Hall for decades. The Optimizing Portland’s Food Industry and Addressing Food Insecurity paper mentioned above includes discussion on a possible economic development model designed to give local residents ownership of the effort and allow them to benefit financially as the neighborhood grows and improves. The program is designed specifically for low income communities and also includes veterans as community heroes in the housing component. More information on the veterans component can be accessed via this link — I would also like to offer this opportunity to recently released nonviolent offenders at some point to help them better integrate back into society and prevent recidivism. Helping others is one of the most rewarding things we can do and it enriches our lives as much as those being helped. It’s definitely a win:win situation.