MEDIA ADVISORY: “Our Homes, Our Voices”: For National Housing Week of Action, local leaders answer White House threats to housing with call for more funding, not less

For immediate release: Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Contact: Denis Theriault, Communications Coordinator, Portland/Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services, 503-893-9430.

WHO: Local and state leaders, community members, clients, providers and advocates. Speakers are expected to include Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, State Sen. Lew Frederick and Home Forward Executive Director Michael Buonocore.

WHAT: Rally and press conference, with interviews available after the event.

WHEN: Friday July 28, 2017, 12:30-1:30 pm.

WHERE: McCoy Park (weather permitting), N Trenton St & Newman Ave, Portland, OR 97203.

PORTLAND -- Dangerous conversations are playing out right now in Washington, D.C., on the future of our federal government’s commitment to affordable housing and homelessness services.

Under the White House’s proposed national budget, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would see a $6.8 billion cut. That would amount to $80 million less for Oregon every year, and $20 million less for Multnomah County. Those cuts would be devastating at a time when we need even more federal funding, not less, to expand our unprecedented local investments in helping hundreds of people off our streets every day.

To make clear that cuts aren’t acceptable, to demand new investments instead of merely holding the line, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has designated this week, July 22-29, as National Housing Week of Action.

Communities across the country are rallying in support of federal housing and anti-poverty programs that save lives, and on Friday, leaders from Portland, Multnomah County, Home Forward and the state of Oregon will join them with an event at New Columbia in North Portland.

We rely on federal funding for a range of services, from Meals on Wheels for our seniors to construction of new affordable housing to the rental vouchers that help working families or people with disabilities stay off our streets.

Those programs make a difference. They work. And they’re particularly important in our community, where housing costs are failing to keep up with incomes. But we’ve been watching federal officials do less and less for years, even as our local leaders have scraped to find ways to do more and more.

Since last year, voters in Portland passed a historic bond measure to pay for affordable housing. Portland and Multnomah County leaders have spent record amounts on homelessness services and seen record amounts of housing placements and shelter use in return.

Our community was the first on the West Coast to win federal honors for addressing homelessness among Veterans. And state leaders, while facing a difficult budget this year, have nonetheless invested millions of dollars more in rent assistance, shelter beds and housing.

But without real federal partnership, without meaningful federal investments, none of that will be enough to support all of our neighbors in need. It won’t be enough to end homelessness. And it won’t be enough to ensure everyone in our community has a home they can afford.