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Resources to help Portland during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Action-Based Ideas That Treat Affordable Housing and Houselessness Like the Crisis It Is

Dear Neighbors, 

Affordable housing and houselessness were crises before COVID-19 hit. Now they're getting even worse. We need to transform our approach to addressing challenges. You can read about my ideas for affordable housing and houselessness.


Here I want to highlight two elements of my plan:

I'm focusing on these because, as the virus abates, we have a rare opportunity to mobilize Portland available volunteers to help. The planning, research and groundwork needs to start happening now.

Yes, as you have come to expect from me, it’s not just a sound bite, it is detailed and nerdy. Why? Portland wants real change, actual improvement. The issue is very complex and its solutions deserve serious thought.

My thanks to the over 1,500 people who helped shape these ideas by answering my February survey

As always, I view my ideas as the start of a conversation, not to finish it. When it comes to public policy making, I love to exchange ideas, critiques and questions, to listen and learn. Email me at



“During the Great Recession, Sam made millions in new City investments to help people stay in their homes. He provided more assistance to the unemployed and shelter for the houseless. He has a smart plan again that can help to address houselessness and to build more affordable housing.”

– Ed McNamara, Doreen Binder, Steve Rudman, Rich Rodgers - Portland affordable housing advocates

Why Vouchers Are Better Than Deferring Payments

As we all know, COVID-19 isn’t just a horrifying and deadly disease, it is also causing profound disruptions to our local economy. Just this week, unemployment claims jumped to 16 million nationally, and about one-third of renters were unable to pay rent in April. Those numbers will continue to get worse. Restaurants, retailers and other small businesses are facing permanent closures and/or bankruptcy.

This spells instability throughout the housing and real estate markets--and in the case of mixed use buildings, these issues are often connected, in order for small and medium sized property owners to pay their mortgages and loans.

Sustainability, Equity & Inclusion

Related to houselessness and affordable housing, there are equity and inclusion policies and frameworks, including at Joint Office of Homeless ServicesHome ForwardOregon Housing and Community Services, and Portland Housing Bureau.

  1. Review performance of established equity and inclusion measurable goals and metrics

  2. Align measurable equity and inclusion goals and measurable able goals and metrics across houseless and affordable housing care continuum.

  3. In the spirit of the Green New Deal goals, strengthen combined sustainability equity and inclusion goals, metrics cross-agency and alignments.

  4. Include aligned houselessness and affordable housing goals and metrics in agreements with contacted combined sustainability equity and inclusion goals service providers.


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