The Obama administration, through the Housing and Urban Development department, has proposed new sweeping changes to national PUBLIC Housing policy. The “Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010”, PETRA*, is now before the U.S. congress. Elected officials from Portland, Gresham and Multnomah county and its candidates Karol Collymore (protege of Jeff Cogen) and Loretta Smith (protege of Ron Wyden) have indicated their united opposition because:

A - These changes refer to PUBLIC Housing which is a term for a reality that is denied to exist by elected officials on the Portland and Gresham city councils as well as the Multnomah county commission and its current candidates Karol Collymore and Loretta Smith.

Under orders from Portland Oregon's infamous mayor, Sam Adams, the existence of PUBLIC Housing has been undeniably denied during the recent and ongoing public conversation involving our city's future known as the Portland Plan. Despite several requests to the Portland city council to include the subject of Public Housing, dozens of public meetings involving thousands of citizens over many months did NOT include a single question, reference or mention of PUBLIC Housing. There was plenty of talk about bicycles and bioswales but not a peep about Public Housing. At no time during this process did any member of the Housing Authority of Portland - who are subject to dismissal by mayor Adams - object or even speak out in any way to affirm the existence of Public Housing which is the entirety of HAP's mission including all of its 33,000 clients.

B - Among the PETRA goals are decreasing concentrations of poor and expanding PUBLIC Housing access to a broad range of neighborhoods which would be a direct threat and reversal of the prevailing political establishment policy of UNLIMITED neighborhood concentration of PUBLIC Housing.

These local objections create a dilemma for Representative Earl Blumenauer and Senators Wyden and Merkley who will eventually have to vote on the bill. Do they support President Barak Obama's plan to decentralize PUBLIC Housing or go with the discredited and abhorrent locals' view - led by mayor Adams - that PUBLIC Housing is best kept confined to a few selected segregated neighborhoods.

From the viewpoints of the Portland and Gresham city halls and the Multnomah county commissioners the most frightening aspect of this federal legislation is that it will force a public conversation on the taboo subject of PUBLIC Housing policy in Multnomah county. Keep in mind that NO APPOINTEE to the board of the Housing Authority of Portland has ever been vetted with the question: Do you support a public policy of Equitable Distribution of Public Housing - which requires publishing of accurate, complete and timely Public Housing Statistical Data (as would PETRA), or do you favor UNLIMITED neighborhood concentration of Public Housing -a policy requiring NO ACCESS to Public Housing Statistical Data?

The Portland Housing Bureau is both unwilling and unable to differentiate between its annual spending of $109,000,000 on PUBLIC Housing (now dwarfing HAP's $80,000,000) - which is completely under government control and so-called, amorphous "affordable" housing which does NOT require income ceilings, rental agreements and any government subsidy and intervention. The Portland Housing Bureau deliberately conflates and obfuscates these mutually exclusive, disparate programs to confuse the public and avoid accountability for its indefensible, stealth PUBLIC Housing policy.

The Portland Housing Bureau's Mission Statement is an exemplar of bureaucratic babble in defense of grand public spending without a well defined and taxpayer understood and supported public purpose: "Creating home for Portlanders by influencing the larger livability agenda, and delivering housing investments and services where the market leaves voids."

The U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, says that the, “Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010” is about PUBLIC Housing. So when we engage in a PUBLIC conversation about this matter we can and should speak about it as PUBLIC Housing legislation.

PUBLIC HOUSING = Means Test + Government Subsidy + Rental Agreement

The annual combined taxpayer expenditures on PUBLIC Housing in Multnomah county by the city of Portland, Multnomah county, the state of Oregon and the Housing Authority of Portland is about $200,000,000. Elected officials from Portland, Gresham and Multnomah county are directly involved in the programs and policies enacted by the spending of these public funds.  

Unless and until they have asked for and received accurate, complete and timely Public Housing Statistical Data from the Housing Authority of Portland, the Portland Housing Bureau, Multnomah county and the state of Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services they CANNOT claim to support the Obama administration's landmark change to PUBLIC HOUSING, the “Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010.” This federal legislation REQUIRES decentralization of low-income housing. This CANNOT be accomplished without first knowing the locationby neighborhood, of ALL the Public Housing clients in Multnomah county