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Housing plan stirs fans, foes

I read your March 2 article 'Sten's plan raises doubts' and, as a member of Erik Sten's base, I want to unequivocally state my enthusiastic support for the 30 percent set-aside for affordable housing in urban renewal areas.

I'm not alone; groups that advocated for the set-aside include the League of Women Voters, Coalition for a Livable Future, the Oregon Food Bank, the City Club of Portland, Elders in Action, Independent Living Resources, the Audubon Society of Portland, Sisters of the Road, the Community Alliance of Tenants and the Community Development Network.

Dewey Akers' opinion is shortsighted; he fails to understand that this set-aside will not bring 'new' low-income people to Lents. Rather, it will allow those working families already struggling to afford rent in Lents to stay in their community as it reaps the benefits of affordable housing.

Twenty years from now, Portland will look back on this set-aside as one of the wisest investments of public funds the city has made. When you invest in housing opportunities, the city and all of us thrive.

Megan E. Dorton

Northwest Portland

Sten preached only to the choir

This letter is in response to the March 2 article 'Sten's plan raises doubts'.

Several months ago, I attended the only public meeting Erik Sten held in the Lents Urban Renewal Area regarding his proposal for a 30 percent set-aside of urban renewal funds for low-income housing.

Aside from former Lents Neighborhood Association Chairwoman Kristina Lake Nord and myself, the only other attendees were from housing organizations.

During the meeting, Nord expressed her concern that the proposed mandate would be disastrous for the Lents Urban Renewal Area. But her concerns were largely dismissed by Sten.

This echoes the experience of Tim Holmes, president of the Central Eastside Industrial Council: 'They say there was a public process, but the only public that was privy to it was the housing folks.'

Holmes suggests that Sten was perhaps avoiding dissenting views by ensuring that he was meeting with only folks who would be supportive of the set-aside. So if Sten is surprised by criticisms of this ill-formed policy, he shouldn't be.

When did Sten offer to attend a Lents Neighborhood Association meeting to discuss the issue, or a Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Committee meeting?He didn't, but he should have.

I believe that everyone deserves a roof over his or her head, and that there should be roofs that are affordable for everyone. There is a great need for low-income housing in Portland, but concentrating poverty in too small an area eventually will lead to severe problems.

If history has anything to tell us about concentrated poverty, New Columbia will be a failure. While including some market-rate housing there signified a step in the right direction, how long will homeowners with mobility stay if crime re-emerges in the area?

There are answers to Portland's housing problems, but the city needs to make all of the neighborhoods players in forming the solution, not just urban renewal areas.

Instead of trying to introduce a stabilizing higher-income population into projects, the projects should be introduced on a very small scale into better neighborhoods where tenants have more opportunities.

If Sten's goal is to help low-income Portlanders, he certainly shouldn't be introducing policies that will create isolated low-income projects in areas that are desperately trying to repair themselves.

If Sten wants Lents and other urban renewal areas to shoulder the entire burden of low-income housing, he is going to find resistance. The least he could do is come out and talk with us about it, face to face.

Jeff Rose

Communications chairman, Lents Neighborhood Association

Give right priorities to our tax dollars

In response to Jim Redden's March 2 story 'So many projects, so little funding,' here in Linnton, the city of Portland is spending $550,000 for two new crosswalks and state-of-the-art traffic signals to replace the existing ones.

On one side of the street, at the new crosswalk, there is no sidewalk, no businesses and no residences. They'll probably cite safety issues - but look closely and you will see there are no pedestrians to protect.

Is this where the money should be spent?

At the same time in Southwest Portland, I park on gravel and walk in mud to get to the heavily used Fulton Park Community Center. The city of Portland's Office of Transportation has been deconstructing our roads for years using, I believe, gas tax funds.

We've allowed them to squander our tax dollars on nonessentials for too long. It's time for a change.

Donald Sparks

Northwest Portland

Via www.portlandtribune.com