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Eudaly win increases city focus on affordable housing
First-time candidate upset incumbant by running hard against increasing rents and home costs; now she has a chance to do something about it
Chloe Eudaly rode a growing wave of anxiety over increasing housing costs to City Hall on Tuesday, defeating first-term Commissioner Steve Novick after forcing him into a November runoff election.
And she will have a chance to help Portlands most ambitious effort yet to provide more affordable housing after Portland voters also approved a $258.4 million bond measure to preserve and construct at least 1,300 units for households earning below the median-family income.
Eudaly will be able to work with new Mayor Ted Wheeler and the rest of the City Council to try and convince the 2017 Oregon Legislature to repeal the statewide bans on no-cause evictions and rent control. Eudaly called on the council to immediately freeze rents and ban no-fault evictions during her campaign, while Novick warned that rent control can have unintended consequences. Wheeler reaffirmed his early pledge to ask the Legislature to lift both bans when speaking at the annual Housing Forecast sponsored by area home builders last Friday.
Eudalys win was the biggest council upset since tavern owner Bud Clark defeated incumbent Mayor Frank Ivance in 1984. The last time an incumbent council member lost was 24 years ago, when Charlie Hales defeated Commissioner Dick Bogle.
Eudaly, a small-business owner and single mother of a son with disabilities, ran an underfunded grassroots campaign that focused on income inequality issues.
Because of her limited fundraising, her campaign relied on social media and door-to-door canvassers, who distributed a comic book about the citys affordable housing crisis by noted cartoonist Joe Sacco.
In contrast, Novick campaigned as a conventional incumbent, pointing to his accomplishments after an admittedly rough first year in office. The day before the general election, he reported raising $427,363 in cash and in-kind contributions in 2016. That compares to just $98,279 reported by Eudaly, who refused to accept contributions from corporations that do business with the city.
Housing bonds create new system
The $258.4 million affordable housing bond approved by voters is not only the largest money measure ever placed on the ballot by the council. It also radically changes the way city government provides affordable housing to Portland residents.
In the past, the city has contributed a share of construction costs to projects owned and operated by other jurisdictions or non-profit organizations. However, because of a restriction in the Oregon Constitution, the city must own all of the projects financed with the bond money and it can only share the costs with other governments, not the private businesses and nonprofit organizations that have helped fund them in the past.
As a result, Portland taxpayers could end up paying all of the costs for the new units, which could average as much as $200,000 each, counting administrative expenses. The city is likely to contract with nonprofit housing organizations to manage them, however.
Measure 26-179 will cost about $75 per year, or $6.25 per month, for the owner of an average home assessed at $178,230 in Portland.
The campaign in support of the measure was backed by the broadest coalition to ever rally around a city candidate or bond measure. Supporters included such unlikely bedfellows as business advocates and homeless activists, real estate developers and social justice organizations, home builders and land use watchdogs. By the day before the elections, the Yes for Affordable Homes campaign had raised $519,040 from its diverse base.
Recreational marijuana sales tax: Yes
Portland voters also approved a 3 percent city tax on the sale of recreational marijuana. It takes effect on July 1, 2016, when the state sales tax on recreational marijuana drops from 25 percent to 17 percent, meaning costs should go down anyway.
The measure will raise an estimated $3 million a year to mitigate the economic and social impacts of the states newly legalized recreational drug.
Its passage is another sign of how normal the recreational marijuana business is becoming. The city tax is similar to the state tax on the sale of alcohol and tobacco.
The Yes on 26-180 committee was underfunded compared to other races, raising just $4,600 by election day.