My View: Clean Energy Initiative eases housing crisis
It seems safe to assume that most Portlanders, if not all, have been touched by our housing crisis. Across the globe, cities suffer from a lack of affordable housing.
A variety of circumstances has created the perfect storm, including housing as a profitable investment vehicle and increased land demand as more populations move from rural to urban settings.
At the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, we affirm housing as a human right and recognize anti-displacement as a pillar of climate resilience. As such, we are deeply committed to the passage of the Portland Clean Energy Initiative (Measure 26-201) this November.
The initiative recognizes that utility bills have a large impact on housing affordability. Utilities frequently overburden families as hidden costs not calculated into total rent. Families consequently have to make difficult decisions between necessities like school supplies and electricity.
The Portland Clean Energy Initiative will reduce utility costs for families. This leaves more funds to put food on the table and to provide for other necessary costs. Furthermore, existing resources for residential clean energy projects only serve homeowners, whereas this initiative unlocks funds to serve renters and those who experience the deepest levels of housing insecurity and wealth inequality.
Community members who will benefit from Portland Clean Energy Initiative projects often have no choice but to take multiple minimum-wage jobs in order to make ends meet. This takes a toll on our overall collective health, leaving less time available for family activities and community building.
Projects will be funded through a 1 percent surcharge on billionaire retailers' in-Portland revenue for those that make over $1 billion nationally and $500,000 locally. This bold initiative justly shifts money and power from the 1 percent to our families experiencing the greatest need.
Low-income immigrants who call the Jade District home experience prospects of development, yet live at an increased risk of displacement. In November 2017, we broke ground with several partners on the Jade APANO Multi-Use Space ("JAMS") redevelopment on Southeast 82nd Avenue and Division Street, which includes affordable housing and a 5,000-square-foot community center.
We look forward to featuring solar panels to reduce energy bills and environmental impact. Through passage of the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, we can scale up this vision across the city.
This November, take a moment to envision a robust network of community-based clean energy projects throughout our city. This necessary source of funding will alleviate the strain of our housing crisis through reduced energy costs and through more living-wage jobs.
Billionaire retail corporations will be held accountable to their overworked and underpaid labor force. There is no silver bullet to solving complex crises like affordable housing and climate change. The Portland Clean Energy Initiative offers a key piece of the puzzle.
Please join me, alongside those living on the frontlines of climate change, by voting yes on Portland Clean Energy Initiative.