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Wheeler: Portland housing, human rights directors leaving
Mayor Ted Wheeler announced the surprise departures of the directors of two bureaus within his portfolio on Thursday.
Kurt Creager, director of the Bureau of Housing, and Dante James, director of the Office of Equity and Human Rights, are both stepping down in December.
Neither had been widely known to be under formal review or considering leaving.
Creager's last day with the City will be Dec. 8. His bureau is currently one of the most prominent in Portland now because of the City Council's push to build more affordable housing.
Among other things, the PHB is currently reviewing application for projects to be funded by the $258.4 million affordable housing bond approved by Portland voters at the November 2018 general election. The first are expected to be presented to the council in March.
Although some affordable housing have criticized the time it is taking to submit the applications to the council, much of the delay was caused by Wheeler's appointment of Stakeholder Advisory Group to draft a policy framework for spending the money. After buying an apartment complex before the group was appointed, the PHB still has around $200 million to spend.
"Kurt has been a tremendous asset as we work to add more affordable housing units in Portland and implement stronger protections for tenants," said Wheeler. "I wish Kurt all the best as he moves on from his time with the City."
Shannon Callahan, currently an assistant housing director, will serve as interim housing director. Callahan has worked closely with the PHB since 2013 in her previous role as policy director for Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who was assigned the PHB at that time. Wheeler appointed Callahan assistant housing director in August.
James's last day with the City will be on Dec. 15.
"Dante's work was instrumental in creating the budget equity tool, and our plan to enhance equitable workforce development in city construction projects through the Community Equity and Inclusion Plan, which was unanimously adopted by City Council this year, among many accomplishments," said Wheeler. "His leadership at the helm of OEHR will be missed."
Koffi "Jean-Pierre" Dessou, currently a program manager in OEHR, will serve as interim bureau director. Dessou has over 23 years of experience in public and private organizations. He worked for the U.S. Department of State at the American Embassy in Togo for 16 years.
According to Wheeler spokesman Michael Cox, the mayor's office is establishing a process to appoint permanent directors of each bureau.