Help stabilize families in Lents. Support building truly affordable housing!
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Please support the Lents Strong Housing Team's request of Prosper Portland for more affordable, family-sized housing at the 92nd & Harold site in the Lents Town Center. You can help us stabilize the diverse families of Lents!
We are writing to share our community vision for the future of the Lents Town Center, and urge you to support it. Lents is being gentrified rapidly, and little has been done through urban renewal to stabilize existing residents. From 2011-2017, housing prices in the Lents-Foster area have increased 100%. This means massive loss of affordable rentals and continued displacement of Lents residents. Lents is one of Portland's most diverse neighborhoods, changing dramatically from 2000 to today. Now, these trends have begun to reverse as Lents residents have been increasingly displaced from the neighborhood. Lent and Kelly Elementary Schools rank among the very highest of Portland Public Schools for displaced students.
To stabilize our diverse community, we need to take extraordinary action. We lost a tremendous opportunity in the recent wave of redevelopment projects in the Lents Town Center, which received more than $50 million in public subsidy, but included no community benefits agreement (CBA). As the urban renewal area comes to a close over the next few years, Prosper is repeating a pattern of gentrification and displacement that had disastrous effects in North/Northeast Portland. Prosper Portland is entering Phase 2 of its recent development efforts in Lents, and the community members most negatively impacted by urban renewal and gentrification have been left out of the process. We are determined to change that.
It’s not too late to take meaningful action to stabilize existing residents and preserve our diverse, working class neighborhood. We have a vision, sourced from thousands of community conversations over the last five years (and five weeks), for phase 2 development including the 92nd & Harold (92H) site. We have engaged people through online surveys, door-to-door canvassing, focus groups in six different languages, and robust outreach at public events. Our team considered the following elements essential for the next wave of development in Lents. Together, we can ensure a diverse and thriving Lents that is affordable for working class people into the future. We understand that these demands will cost money to implement, and believe urban renewal dollars should be invested in community benefits that the market is not providing.
1. Development proposals should be evaluated through a robust anti-displacement analysis with an equity lens. Given the massive loss of affordability in Lents since the property was offered for proposals in 2014, the Lents Strong Housing Team believes that Prosper Portland should uplift our priorities. If Palindrome Communities--the developer with first right of refusal on the 92H property--cannot meet these needs, Prosper Portland should reissue a request for proposals in a transparent and timely manner.
2. Require a legally binding community-benefits agreement (CBA). Prosper Portland has agreed that they will ensure a CBA is completed on the Broadway Corridor project, and we believe that Prosper must utilize its first (and only) CBA in the Lents Town Center as part of new development. This CBA should be developed and agreed upon prior to the design and land use review process for any proposed development(s). The CBA should utilize local hiring provisions for East Portlanders, including preference for businesses owned by women and people of color.
3. Ensure that at least 60% of units in new developments are affordable at 50% area MFI or below, including at least half of affordable units at 30% or below. While Lents has added substantial affordable housing the last few years, gentrification and rising housing costs have more than erased those gains. The vast majority of recent affordable housing is at 60% area MFI, far higher than many residents can afford. We need to take extraordinary action to ensure stable homes for residents before they are pushed out. Ensure that the vast majority are ADA accessible. 50% AMI for a single person in Portland is $28,500, a working class salary common in Lents. 30% AMI for a single person is $17,100 and is accessible for people on fixed incomes and with low-wage or part-time jobs.
4. Prioritize the development of family-size apartments, especially 3 or more bedrooms. There is essentially a 0% vacancy rate for affordable rentals with 3 or more bedrooms, both in Lents and Portland overall. This creates significant challenges for low-income families who call Lents home, and makes it even harder to find housing when displaced. It is vitally important for the health of families to have adequately-sized housing which ideally exceeds Oregon Housing & Community Services standards.
5. Require that existing Lents residents are well-informed about the availability and leasing of new units before they become available. Green Lents and Lents Strong partners have worked to ensure that existing residents have access to new affordable units in the Town Center, but these efforts have been dismissed or unsupported. Prosper should work closely with potential developers to ensure that they prioritize outreach to communities who are vulnerable to displacement, while also supporting community partners financially to assist with engagement.
6. Work to protect residents from harmful diesel pollution during construction. Prioritize developers whose contractors use construction equipment that filters out harmful diesel pollution. Construction is the largest source of diesel pollution in Multnomah County, and Lents is already significantly impacted by diesel emissions coming from I-205, Foster Rd, Powell Blvd, 82nd Ave, and 92nd Ave. Ongoing construction in the Lents Town Center and the Foster Streetscape project have exacerbated this problem in recent years. The Boys & Girls Club will be in close proximity to construction, and Foster Streetscape projects and other construction activities mean that diesel is harming people in these areas.
7. Require the inclusion of outdoor community space that allows people to gather and garden. Access to community space is a critical component of healthy housing, and the size of the 92H development creates exciting opportunities to provide much-needed community space in the Town Center. Any investments in public art and design should prioritize artists of color.
More on the Lents Strong Housing Team...
The Lents Strong Housing Team is unique in that it is composed of members of the Lents community who are impacted by housing instability and are being formally trained in advocacy & organizing skills. Of 20 frequent participants, our team is made up of more than 70% people of color and is composed nearly entirely of renters. We provide Spanish interpretation, childcare, and food at our meetings, and we have participation from people from teenage to senior age. We have team members who have experienced displacement, those who fear their own displacement, and those who grew up here and are concerned about how Lents is changing. This project is self-determined by our team members. Green Lents and ROSE Community Development are acting as facilitators as our team has developed and pursued our advocacy priorities.
ROSE Community Development
Lents Foster-Powell NAC (Portland Assembly)
Portland Tenants United
Right 2 Survive
Sisters of the Road
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
Community Alliance of Tenants
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