Portland Public ForUms

Portland Public Forums are an ongoing program of Oregon Opportunity Network, made possible through a grant from the Portland Housing Bureau

Members, supporters, and decision-makers come together to discuss current issues affecting the affordable housing community. All forums are free and open to the public. Contact us to receive announcements about upcoming Forums.

These forums are generally held at First Unitarian Church, Buchan Room – 1226 SW Salmon St., Portland 97205 - from 12 noon to 1:30 (doors open at 11:30). Cookies and coffee/water provided; feel free to bring your own lunch. All are welcome!


January 19, 2017: Where do we go from here?  A panel discussion with housing leaders on the future of housing equity and opportunity in Portland

We heard perspectives from several of our new generation of housing leaders, as they discuss the path forward for equitable housing opportunity in our city. We were excited to hear from this panel of leaders:

  • Katrina Holland, Executive Director, Community Alliance of Tenants

  • Madeline Kovacs, Program Coordinator, Portland for Everyone/1000 Friends of Oregon
  • Lauren Macbeth, Assistant Director, ROSE Community Development
  • Amanda Manjarrez, Advocacy Director, Coalition of Communities of Color
  • Travis Phillips, Director of Housing and Development, PCRI

September 1, 2016 - Portland's Inclusionary Housing Policy - with Commissioner Dan Saltzman

During the 2016 legislative session, many housing advocates and partners, including the City of Portland, worked hard to lift the statewide ban on Inclusionary Zoning (IZ). The resulting bill (SB 1533), while far from ideal, did make it possible for a local jurisdiction to enact a limited form of mandatory inclusionary zoning in private market development. Commissioner Saltzman has led the way on developing Portland’s proposal, and an advisory group has provided input.

You can read here for more information on the City’s process. By early September, the Commissioner’s proposal was close to complete. This forum was an opportunity for Oregon ON members, partners, and the public to learn more and provide feedback as this historic policy moves toward consideration by City  Council.

July 28, 2016 - Residential Infill Forum: Equitable Housing Choices for Portland Neighborhoods

Seven Oregon ON members, partners and community members gathered at a forum on July 28 on the City’s Residential Infill process. Joe Zehnder, Morgan Tracy, and Tyler Bump from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability presented the proposal that is currently under consideration. This forum was part of the City’s public outreach that is wrapping up on August 15th. For more information and to provide feedback, check out the project website: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/67728

During audience discussion, we talked about the tensions around keeping “neighborhood character,” the resistance to change from some residents, and the interest in providing housing opportunities for communities of color, families with low and moderate income, millennials, and aging folks looking to downsize. More pics and info on Facebook

April 8, 2016: Mayoral Candidates forum - co-sponsored with Community Alliance of Tenants, Street Roots and Portland tenants United

Seven mayoral candidates participated in this forum focused on housing, tenant protections, and homelessness - expertly moderated by Katrina Holland of the Community Alliance of Tenants. Watch video from the first hour here.  

Our questions included: closing this gap and better aligning publicly funded housing with the biggest need at 0-30% MFI; addressing  disparities to ensure that communities of color have equitable access to quality housing; and a lightning round of yes/no questions on topics including Inclusionary Zoning and rent control. Thanks to all our partners, the candidates and those who attended. 

January 22, 2016: A conversation with Portland’s Housing Commissioner, Dan Saltzman and Portland Housing Bureau Director Kurt Creager   

About 100 people from the Portland housing industry and the broader community filled the room for an update and conversation with Portland’s Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Portland Housing Bureau Director Kurt Creager.

It was truly exciting to hear the depth of detail and broad vision provided by our city’s housing leadership – in short, profound wonkiness driven by the value that everyone needs a place to call home – and a determination to push hard and do what it takes to get there.

Both men noted that it is “time to call the question” for housing in Portland – time to make budget investments, time to step up as a community to ensure that everyone in our community has access to housing opportunity.

June 16, 2015: Emerging Leadership in Affordable Housing and Community Development in Portland: A Panel Discussion with the New Generation of Housing Leaders   

We were inspired to hear from several new leaders who will share their perspectives about the challenges and opportunities in Portland around housing and community development, followed by audience discussion:

  • Michael Buonocore, Home Forward

  • Cat Goughnour, Radix Consulting Group
  • Cameron Herrington, Living Cully
  • Edward Hill, Groundwork Portland
  • Jes Larson, Welcome Home Coalition
  • Vivian Satterfield, OPAL
  • Shannon Singleton, JOIN
  • Maggie Tallmadge, Coalition of Communities of Color
  • Dan Valliere, REACH

Friday, May 8, 2015: The City of Portland’s First Annual State of Housing Report:  

A Presentation of Key Findings and Discussion with City Leadership. We were pleased to welcome Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Portland Housing Bureau Assistant Director Javier Mena and PHB Policy and Equity Manager Matthew Tschabold for a discussion of PHB’s first annual State of Housing Report. Check out pictures from the event on Facebook.

The report paints a stark picture of the lack of affordable housing access and options, particularly for communities of color and our lowest-income neighbors.

What can we do about it? Advocate for more money for housing in the upcoming City budget. Write to your state Representative and Senator urging them to support the Governor’s proposal to invest $100 million in affordable housing; and to support HB 2564, which would lift the statewide ban on affordable housing.

Let’s use this excellent but sobering report to continue to push for better policies and increased resources so that people of all colors and income levels can call Portland home.

Feb. 5, 2015: Enough Planning, Time for Action:

 An update from the East Portland Action Plan Housing Committee. Oregon ON was delighted to host members of the East Portland Action Plan Housing Committee at this forum to learn the latest about their recommendations for equitable access to housing opportunity in East Portland. Who are we building for and who are we welcoming in our city? How can we ensure that everyone has the opportunity to choose where they want to live? How do we encourage growth and economic development in East Portland, without displacing low-income residents?

The panel discussion included the following East Portland Action Plan representatives:

  • Jean De Master, Human Solutions
  • Frieda Christopher, David Douglas School District
  • Nick Sauvie, ROSE Community Development
  • Justin Buri, Community Alliance of Tenants

More pix and recap on Facebook – click here.

Dec. 5, 2014: Is the American Dream Out of Reach?
A Public Forum on Homeownership Opportunity in Portland

More than 40 local leaders and community members joined Oregon Opportunity Network as we hosted the Partners for Affordable Homeownership (PAH) to tackle the topic of homeownership opportunity in Portland.

The forum’s title, “Is the American Dream Out of Reach?” previewed some startling statistics about homeownership in Portland — in the last 10 years, unlike most major cities, Portland has become less diverse through gentrification, with drops in home ownership in communities of color. PAH, which brings together 7 member organizations, shared statistics about the demographics of homeownership in Portland, the benefits and cost-savings of homeownership (to both families and communities), and practical tools for assisting families in securing and keeping their first homes.

PAH contends that homeownership is a key strategy in preventing involuntary displacement, and that placing more families into homes will free up affordable housing for additional renters. Additionally, specific strategies to support communities of color and remedy housing disparities and displacement caused by decades of discriminatory housing policies and redlining.

After the panel presentation, a question-and-answer session led to a lively discussion on how to include homeownership as part of a comprehensive housing strategy that is developed and implemented with an equity lens, as well as how communities, policymakers, and individuals can support housing efforts. We were honored to have House Speaker Tina Kotek, who was in attendance, engage in the conversation about how best to support affordable housing projects.

PAH members include Proud Ground, Hacienda CDC, Habitat for Humanity, NAYA and Portland Housing Center. We are excited to continue this conversation with our member organizations and the broader community. View a powerpoint presentation from the forum. Read a summary of tweets from the forum.

Thursday, June 5, 2014: Healthcare and Housing Linkages – New Collaboratives and Opportunities

At this lively Forum we heard from about exciting new collaboratives and opportunities for linking housing with healthcare for better outcomes, reduced costs, and potential opportunities to support housing and/or services for residents. We were joined by moderator Howard Klink, and a panel including Amanda Saul from Enterprise Community Partners, Ed Blackburn of Central City Concern, Sarah Stevenson of Innovative Housing Inc., Renee Doak from Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, and Rose Englert from CareOregon. This is a “hot” conversation and many in the audience had great questions and ideas, making for a very interesting and enlightening forum!

May 15, 2014:  Hacienda CDC’s Mercado project – Victor Merced, Nathan Teske of Hacienda and John Jackley of PDC

Hacienda CDC’s Victor Merced and Nathan Teske provided an overview of this exciting project – Portland’s first Latino public market – which celebra ted its groundbreaking later that same day. This was a great preview of how the Mercado came to fruition over several years of community building, fundraising, political mobilization and visioning. The Mercado will be a catalyst for microenterprise, food education, cultural experiences,  and diverse economic development in outer SE Portland!

We were also very pleased to welcome John Jackley  of the Portland Development Commission. PDC has been an early and consistent supporter of the Portland Mercado. John shared about PDC’s economic and community development strategies and policy direction, their collaborative relationship with Hacienda CDC, and PDC’s vision to bring economic opportunities to underserved communities of Portland.

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