Hillsdale project swamped by politics


Letters to the editor

The Aug. 2 article by Jim Redden on the redo of the Hillsdale Terrace public housing project from 60 units to 122 units puts a good face on an inexcusable outrage.

The new units are budgeted to cost $385,000 each at a total cost of $47 million, not including land value. Compare this atrocious cost with private, taxpaying housing in Portland: single-family homes have an average value of $262,400, and privately owned apartments’ average value is less than $80,000 per unit.

In spite of the egregious cost, there has not been even a hint of dissent or shock. When the Hope 6 grant was announced, The Oregonian editorially referred to it as, “the best news.” U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkeley and City Commissioner Nick Fish all reportedly congratulated Home Forward on receiving the grant.

Years ago, public housing projects were restricted to the poorest families and individuals. These projects turned into unlivable slums and had to be demolished to alleviate the problems.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development then adopted a policy of mixed-income housing, which required that some units must be rented to higher-income families.

Of course, this raises the public cost of serving lower-income tenants and results in the bizarre situation of folks who don’t really need housing assistance occupying public housing units while the housing authority maintains a years-long waiting list of families that really need housing assistance.

This outrage is a tiny bit of the tsunami of debt that has the United States in a financial crisis and threatens to bankrupt the country. The Hillsdale Terrace debacle is an example of disregard for taxpayer money, which, when repeated thousands of ways in thousands of government functions, has led us into $16 trillion of national debt, and according to President Obama’s budget, headed to $26 trillion by 2022.

Ray Hallberg

Lake Oswego

Editor’s note: Hallberg was a commissioner of the Housing Authority of Portland in the 1960s.

Bag ban is a national movement

In regard to the letters written in response to Tara Gallagher’s piece about the single-use bag ban, I was quite frankly shocked at the vehemence of people’s opposition to a paper bag fee at grocery stores, and in particular their reasons.

To quote a couple of my favorites: “Not everyone can carry bags around with them” — this is patently untrue. I have seen plenty of individuals with compromised mobility on public transportation who are perfectly self-sufficient enough to carry their own grocery bags. “I’m tired of ... people who put abstract goals like environmentalism and especially sustainability above livability” — these things are one and the same.

How livable do you suppose a city would be with no parks, no recycling or composting services, heavy industry, etc?

Lastly, I think it would be instructive for everyone to know that L.A. County placed a ban on plastic bags and began charging for paper bags in 2010 (a whole year before Portland) and has seen a 95 percent reduction in single bag usage, according to its website.

So let’s stop considering this a “liberal Portland greenie Pearlie” move and recognize that this is part of a national and international discussion about how to reverse certain of the unparalleled and scientifically proven detrimental effects of an industrialized world.

Gabrielle Haber

Northeast Portland