April 8, 2021 SNA General & Board Meeting Agenda


This meeting is open to the public.
Times are approximate.  Agenda items subject to change.

This meeting will be conducted via Zoom.  All attendees will be muted upon entry into the meeting.  In order to ask a question or make a comment, please use the “Raise Hand” feature.  If accessing the meeting via computer, tablet, or smartphone app, you can do so via the “Raise hand button” in the “Participant” menu. If you are calling in to the meeting via phone, please dial *9.  You can learn more about how to use this feature here: https://www.techjunkie.com/zoom-raise-hand/

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Are you interested in Oregon’s legislative process?

To learn more about the work of the Oregon legislature, visit
www.oregonlegislature.gov. These are direct links to the representatives whose districts cover the Sunnyside neighborhood:

Senator Kathleen Taylor (District 21)
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/taylor

Representative Rob Nosse (District 42)
https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/nosse

Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with Mark Usher

When did you settle in Sunnyside?
Last April.

Why did you choose Sunnyside over another part of the city?
I seen the gathered people—the homeless area—and so I blended in. Tried to! I first went to Laurelhurst and then we got swept. We were forced to move down here.

What led you to become homeless? (If you don’t mind talking about it.)
I had transferred from the Newberg Fred Meyer store to the Clackamas store because my buddy Adrian was running the meat market there. But before I started, he went to selling insurance, because he could make more money. I had a heck of a time getting on back there in any departments.

So because you didn’t have a job you weren’t able to pay your rent.
Right, exactly.

You went up to Sandy yesterday to visit your daughter. How did that go?
I knocked a couple trees down for the doctor I work for, at his house on Mount Hood. (He also has a place on Burnside.) He was afraid they were gonna drop on his house. While I was up on the mountain, I seen my daughter. Then, I dropped by to ask him, I was like, “When you want me to do them?” and he said, “Right now’s a good time!” I said, “Oh no!” I said to him, “I’m not gonna buck ‘em and limb ‘em, I’m just gonna drop them.” He can go out there anytime with a chainsaw and do the rest. I had to catch my bus back to Portland.

I don’t know all this lingo. Can you explain?
I used to work for Brandon Logging in Sandy—I ran the landing. That’s when log trucks park and they load the logs on the truck. You “limb it,” which means you cut the limbs off. Then you “buck it”—cut it into sections.

You do other work for this doctor, right? You’ve mentioned he also has a place on Burnside.
He has properties all over the place and I go in and put new fixtures in: sinks, toilets and stuff like that. He rents them out. Sometimes we’ll remodel the whole thing—we’ll do everything from the hardwood floors to painting. He was my neighbor up on the mountain for about ten years. He helps me out a lot. I can go charge my phone at his place. I house sit for him when he takes off for Texas or Indiana to visit his kids.

What do you like most about Sunnyside?
It’s quiet down here. Probably having the church here helps keep it quiet. And it seems like the people are nicer here! (Laughs.)

What’s one thing you would change about Sunnyside, if you could?
They got an outhouse right there. That’s nice of them. But they don’t put enough of them. For 15 people, that’s good. But for 30 people—one outhouse gets trashed. That would be an improvement. And keep up the good work on the Neighborhood Association!

Can you explain to housed neighbors what it’s like to be houseless?
The uncertainty on where do you go? Anywhere you go, they don’t want you there, which I can see. If you have a nice home at Laurelhurst, you don’t want to be up in the morning looking at your window to see that. But we don’t camp across from their houses now. But still, it’s a burden. People come down there and go, “Look at that. It’s messy!” I don’t know what could make people change their minds on having people camping across from them.

How long have you been on the list waiting for affordable housing?
Over a year. I don’t mind them giving whatever comes available to women and children first. We just need a place to go where we know our stuff will be there when we’re back from work, you know?

SNA March Notes and April Plans

Building Design, Police Oversight, and Homeless Camps

The March SNA general meeting hosted Heather Flint Chatto, who spoke about building design in the neighborhood, especially along Hawthorne Blvd. and Belmont St.

Complete with photos and illustrations, Heather explained the PDX Main Street Design Guidelines www.pdxmainstreets.org/designguidelines which are aimed at improving the fit between new infill and old buildings. Heather showed how structures built at different times and with different styles could fit together harmoniously. At the April general meeting the SNA will consider whether to adopt the guidelines which have been adopted by eight Neighborhood Associations (NAs) and business districts for 12 southeast main streets, including Hawthorne Blvd.

Building design has long been an interest of SNA. For history and context, please search our website (sunnysideportland.org) using the term “land use docs”. I especially recommend reading Adopted Sunnyside Neighborhood Plan-1999. This is far from a dry planning document; rather, it is a rich combination of history, architecture, and neighborhood aspirations. Proposed building projects above a certain size are required to notify the appropriate neighborhood association and although NAs do not have approval authority, the SNA generally asks builders to present their project designs at our general meeting. They usually seem open to questions and suggestions, which could include design guidelines.

Johanna Brenner, next spoke on the topic of increased civilian oversight of the Portland police. Johanna advocated that the SNA endorse a letter recommending specific language in the PPB contract (please see related article in this issue). The SNA encourages neighbors’ emailed opinions on the potential endorsement.

Taking up the final topic of the evening, the SNA continued its pursuit of pragmatic solutions to homelessness by endorsing the Committee on Safety and Livability to respond to the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ request for programmatic qualifications (http://ahomeforeveryone.net/news).

Both Heather and Johanna are scheduled to continue their respective topics at the April SNA general meeting. I hope to see you all there. Stay safe.

SNA Community Safety & Livability Update

Committee Meeting

The March SNA Community Safety & Livability meeting hosted Andy Miller, Executive Director of Human Solutions. Human Solutions was founded in 1988 to provide home weatherization and utility assistance for seniors and low-income households. Over the last 25 years, the organization’s mission has expanded to partner with, invest in, and advocate for people and communities impacted by poverty so that they can achieve long-term housing and economic security.

Andy Miller spoke of the well-researched idea that the most significant factor in a child’s lifetime trajectory is the zip code into which they are born. With this understanding, Human Solutions focuses on fighting intergenerational poverty at the neighborhood level, with a focus on eastern Multnomah County.

Human Solutions responds to immediate crises – operating three emergency shelters and providing rent assistance, eviction prevention, and utility assistance. The organization provides affordable housing, with over 650 apartments and over 200 more currently in development. Their housing advocacy is paired with job and career counseling and skills training – providing critical resources for people transitioning from public assistance and for those experiencing re-entry from incarceration and homelessness.

Mr. Miller notes that housing insecurity is a pervasive impact of our nation’s racist past and present. Black and brown people have been denied generations of wealth and opportunity — denied actual housing opportunities. Even though we’ve changed many of the laws that were in place for those generations, we are left dealing with profound consequences of insecurity. “For folks sleeping outside, you are 50% more likely to have a tent if you are White.”

Andy Miller also noted that he’s not a fan of shelters; they are an important stop-gap resource, but shouldn’t be more than a stepping stone to more stable housing. However, he notes that when he started working with Human Solutions, the average shelter stay was three weeks. The average now is six to twelve months. There just isn’t enough affordable housing for folks to transition into.

The work Human Solutions does is working; there just aren’t enough resources and people in need are being underserved. Millar notes that, “For every one person we help, there are nine we have to turn away.”
Why are there so many people who need the services that Human Solutions provides? Opinions about the causes of homelessness and housing insecurity vary widely; some blame addiction, mental illness, laziness, or bad luck. Human Solutions identifies poverty as a root cause – the significant gap between the high cost of housing and the low values of income. For example, in Portland, the hourly wage required to afford a studio apartment is $22.92 while the median hourly wages in the largest employment sectors – food & bar service, retail, and home health care – range from $12.47 to $13.74.

Andy wrapped up his presentation with an inspiring case study from Helsinki. Similar in population to Portland, Helsinki implemented universal basic income and a Housing First policy that provides unconditional housing. Finland is the only EU country where homelessness rates are falling.

The Equal Times website describes the simple idea at the foundation of Finland’s Housing First policy, “… everyone is entitled to somewhere to live, even people with complex psychosocial, health and financial issues such as addiction or poor credit ratings. The theory is that it is easier to tackle the multiple issues often faced by a person experiencing homelessness if that person has a stable home.”