What UNR does, and why

Portland grassroots group United Neighborhoods for Reform seeks to stem the demolition of viable, affordable housing. Our demolition/development resolution, developed through significant neighbor outreach, gathered endorsements from 43 neighborhood associations citywide. We also regularly take our message to City Hall, starting in December 2014, continuing in 2015 on Feb. 12, June 3 (UNR presenters start at 51:20), Oct. 14 (UNR at 1:07:35), and Nov. 25 (UNR at 1:05); in 2016 on Feb. 17, Nov. 9 and 16, and Dec. 7; in 2017 on May 17; in 2018 on Feb. 1; and many dates since.

"The time is always right to do what is right."
—Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Despite the "gut-and-stuff," neighbors win

It's baseball season, and one player's
pronouncement speaks to the activism
that beat down a bad bill.
It took a lot of energy and effort, but House Bill 2007, which would have accelerated demolitions beyond developers' wildest dreams, finally died, but not before some of the less onerous parts of it were folded into some child-care bill, which was renamed then ushered through Salem in a last-minute move before the session ended. So—that's how it works.

Hopefully, the players behind HB2007—and the developers' lobby in the form of 1000 Friends of Oregon/Portland for Everyone (now so thoroughly co-opted they chime in on behalf of developers for _expansion_ of the urban growth boundary)—got their wake-up call.

Pouring money into the effort and the misinformation, just as they do in attacking neighborhoods' desire to become historic districts, their side did little more than name-calling because they didn't have any stats to back up the theory that building more leads to affordable housing. As we've seen in this construction boom, building more has led to a housing crisis, and in some areas near-complete displacement (read on).

So far on the ground level more and more of us have seen too much of the theory—dumping modest homes in the landfill, erecting upscale housing in its place—that it's hard to garner much sympathy for the desperate desire to create more "market-rate," "needed" housing. Really, we need a break.

Most Portlanders have well-developed BS detectors and—the testimony against HB2007 gives ample evidence—they are using them.

Now see this

Cornelius Swart presents a screening of his newly
completed Priced Out late last month at Billy Webb Elks
Lodge in Northeast Portland. Order a copy, chance into a
screening, or catch it on the festival circuit.
Filmmaker and journalist Cornelius Swart chronicled the Albina area in NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream. Fifteen years on, his Priced Out serves as the sequel and tells the story of a neighborhood decimated by the city's demolition-favorable policies, through the lens of one activist who eventually fled what had been home.

In her and others' wake the neighborhood's thoroughfares turned into walls of shiny apartments for the well-heeled. Priced Out takes a sharp look at the changes, with nuggets such as how the city dropped the ball on building hundreds of units of affordable housing and why there's that weird empty field next to Legacy Emanuel hospital. See the film, and understand.

If you thought we had learned the lessons of "Urban Removal" efforts from decades ago, this movie prompts a rethink.

old-time Albina
With our centers and corridors set to become characterless cityscapes, it's still not too late to fight for the diverse life at their borders, quality construction (the tragedy of Grenfell Tower provides a few lessons), old-growth architecture, and the places that make Portland unique. We can start with saving people's homes—as we did in beating back HB2007.

North Williams Avenue now
Perhaps the city, too, has noticed the class stratification, the neighborhoods made up of less-invested residents, and the general malaise.

While Sunday Parkways threatens not to stage rides because not enough volunteers have signed up as in the past, the city suddenly wants to talk about heritage and "historic resources" (emphasizing its commitment to "meaningful involvement"; as opposed to—?) and commemorate Portland's "Black Broadway." For the latter, the art will be wonderful and the irony delicious, considering the now unrecognizable North Williams Avenue (above) and the overwhelming shade of the population able to live there.