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Sources Say • Fish polishes his housing resume

by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Construction began last summer on the $49 million Resource Access Center in Old Town/Chinatown, slated to open in June. It will provide housing for 130 homeless people and include an overnight shelter and a daytime facility.

While some City Council members struggle to keep their projects on track (anyone remember redeveloping the Rose Quarter?), Commissioner Nick Fish is building a respectable record in the less-than-glamorous affordable-housing field.

When the council was fighting to extend the life of the River District Urban Renewal Area, Fish worked behind the scenes to make sure the Resource Access Center to help low income and homeless Portlanders got funded, in part with urban-renewal dollars. It is nearing completion and slated to open in June.

Now, after years of delay, a construction kick-off date for the first affordable housing project in South Waterfront has been announced. Work on the 209-unit building is actually expected to start before the April 26 event. The Portland Housing Bureau, which Fish oversees, helped finalize the complex $50 million financing package with the project partners, which include the REACH Community Development Corp., Oregon Housing and Community Services, U S Bancorp, Enterprise Community Investment, the Housing Authority of Portland and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a town that values helping the most vulnerable among us, getting the project moving is a good accomplishment to tout in a re-election campaign - or in a run for higher office.

Saying goodbye again

Roy Kaufmann, Mayor Sam Adams' former press aide, is quitting his second city job in a few weeks - but he swears no one should read too much into it.

Earlier this month, Kaufmann resigned as Adams' spokesman to take the job of interim public information officer for the Portland Office of Emergency Management. But on March 21 the EnviroMedia advertising and public relations firm sent out a press release announcing it had hired Kaufmann as managing director of its Portland team. Kaufmann says he was not offered the job until after he had left the mayor's office, but that it was too good an opportunity to turn down. He had worked for an advertising agency before being hired by Adams in early 2009.

Perhaps Kaufmann's first week on the emergency-management job had him thinking about something with a little less stress. The earthquake and tsunami struck Japan just as he was starting work, prompting a frenzy of questions from local reporters about whether the city is prepared for such a disaster.

Sticking to business

The Tuesday ceremony to kick off the federally funded reconstruction of Southwest Moody Avenue was rife with political intrigue. It featured remarks from Mayor Sam Adams and Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who has not ruled out running for Adams' office in 2012. It also included one of the first public appearances by Congressman David Wu since questions have been raised about his fitness for office.

Unfortunately for the reporters who covered the event, everyone behaved themselves. Adams and Blumenauer were civil to each other, while Wu delivered an innocuous statement about the importance of the satellite Oregon Health and Science University campus in the South Waterfront area.

None of the other politicians seemed uncomfortable with Wu's presence, either.

Looks like we'll have to wait a few more months to see how it all plays out.