The Only Way to Fix this Is to Build

So that’s what we’re doing.

A photo shows a multi-story apartment building near a park, where kids are playing. Text reads, "The Nick Fish Apartments."

It’s the end of the year, and two things are certain: One, our region is severely short on affordable housing. And two, we need your support today as we build housing to help end this shortage.

The folks at The Atlantic published a story this month that we hope you will read, titled, “The Obvious Answer to Homelessness.” It shares a few important discoveries:

  • Areas with high poverty rates can have very low homelessness rates (and vice versa), such as Detroit, Miami-Dade County, or Philadelphia.
  • High rates of drug abuse and mental illness also don’t necessarily mean high rates of homelessness – the author cites Utah, Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, West Virginia, Vermont, Delaware, and Wisconsin.
  • Climate isn’t the factor either, they say (compare the Portland area’s high rate of homelessness to the low rates in, say, Florida).

Even though mental health crises, addiction, and poverty have massive impacts on people’s lives – and people experiencing these deserve support – they are not the causes of homelessness.

So what does cause high rates of homelessness like we see here? Along with low unemployment in booming labor markets, the key is a lack of housing. “The homelessness crisis we see in American cities today dates only to the 1980s. What changed that caused homelessness to explode then? Again, it’s simple: lack of housing,” the author writes. “The places people needed to move for good jobs stopped building the housing necessary to accommodate economic growth.”

It is clear we need to build housing ­here in East Portland and wider East Multnomah County – and make it affordable. Last month, a report by the state said that Oregon is looking at a 20-year shortage of at least 554,000 new housing units, “and 176,300 of these units, or 32 percent, will need to be affordable for households earning less than 60 percent of statewide area median income (AMI).”

We hope you’ll commit to helping end this crisis with us. We need partners, allies, and advocates to support this tremendous effort to help every neighbor have the housing that we all deserve.

Our 2022 fundraising drive ends at midnight on Saturday. If you’re able to donate this tax year, please do so now.