COVID-19 Safety, Recovery and Resilience

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Commissioner Rubio's First Term Priorities

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Portland is a special place to me, and many of you have told me it is for you too. For some, we have called it home our entire lives. For many more, Portland is a chosen home.

Yet, regardless of how long you have lived here, we all share a belief in – and a vision for – a city where every family can live affordably, that is safe for everyone regardless of who you are, where community members look out for one another, with jobs that pay good wages and offer benefits, good schools where all kids have the opportunity to succeed, and where everyone feels that they belong.

Getting there requires all of us, including elected leaders willing to listen to community, to be honest with community and to be transparent with community on the decisions made. This is my commitment to you.

Responding with Urgency to our Housing Crisis

This a challenging time for Portland. Prior to the pandemic, city and county governments collectively served 35,000 people last year with services like emergency shelter, rent assistance, permanent housing, and support services. Yet every day more people are struggling as the cost of rent outpaces income. Folks end up without affordable housing options or a place to stay for a variety of reasons - and the situation has only become more dire due to COVID 19, putting lives and livelihoods at stake.  And our local agencies and nonprofit partners are doing great, effective work, yet they are still outpaced by the growing need.

The good news is that, despite these challenging times, Portlanders have said loud and clear that addressing the housing crisis is a priority and voted to pass two housing and supportive services ballot measures. It’s an incredible opportunity for us all to turn our aligned values into aligned action.

These issues are personal to me, and I will continue to advocate for continued regional collaboration and joint investments in what we know works, like pathways to permanent supportive housing, mental health and addiction programs, and rent and energy assistance programs that prevent more families and children from falling into homelessness. It also means using data in decision making and involving all impacted communities - especially our houseless neighbors and vulnerable communitie - to rebuild trust, identify challenges and solutions, and explore partnerships to move us from crisis to thriving, and where everyone has a place to call home.

COVID Response & Economic Recovery

The Portland I envision takes care of hardworking frontline and low-income families first. Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color communities, and working families know that this city’s prosperity has often come at the expense of our communities wellbeing. Rampant displacement and gentrification have left behind far too many people. And until this pandemic is behind us, I will continue to advocate for what we need from Congress and our state and local governments to help with resources for our small businesses and vulnerable and working families.

We need to increase our strategic investments and opportunities for BIPOC and women-owned businesses, small businesses and equitable investments in all parts of our city - especially in East Portland. To do this it takes regional collaboration because our city cannot do this alone. And the more collaboration and emergency assistance help and support we can make available now, the stronger our recovery will be. I am committed to working with community, labor and business leaders as we recover from the pandemic and to optimize our plan for economic recovery.

Parks & Natural Resources

As a longtime nonprofit executive director, I have seen firsthand how parks programming enriches the lives of Portlanders and makes an important contribution to the health of this community. Especially now, we can see how people are turning to our parks and natural spaces for their physical and emotional well-being. My goal is to expand our parks resources to increase access to Black, Indigenous, other communities of color, working families and East Portland communities.

In fact, 33% of youth in Portland live east of I-205 and 59% of those youth do not have access to a playground. Knowing this matters and taking action matters more - especially in the midst of these challenging times where we have no choice but to stay home or find spacious outdoor places - in order to stay safe. Even more, for people and families with little or no direct access greenspaces, like in more urban or apartment settings, access to city parks has been a lifeline. Parks and open spaces are providing an opportunity for youth and adults to go outside, get exercise, breathe fresh air and mentally and physically recharge. For these reasons, I’ll work hard to ensure we hold onto, and expand, this precious resource.

Climate Action

We have a vanishingly small window of opportunity to take climate action. The climate crisis affects all Portlanders, impacting Black, Indigenous, other communities of color and working and low-income families hardest of all. I am committed to ensuring Portland continues to be a leader by supporting community-led efforts to accelerate our shared city and county goal to get 100% of our energy from renewable sources by 2035. To get us there, I support the development of community-based energy sources, pushing our region to hasten the shift to renewable sources, and supporting the implementation of policies and strategic community-based climate programs and projects like Portland Clean Energy Fund, that creates good-paying jobs, and elevates the leadership of the most-impacted Portlanders in our climate efforts.

In transportation, I support investments that make transit, bicycling, and walking – fast and safe alternatives. We need to do that recognizing that most of our high-crash corridors are in low-income and BIPOC communities, and this is why we must prioritize investments to create plentiful and reliable transportation options. Efficient transportation options bring access to economic opportunity, work, school, and recreation.

Reimagining Public Safety

There is no mistaking that the year 2020 was a call for change. It’s clear the community is ready to see a new, community-centered way to do public safety. I am committed to working with stakeholders, community advocates and my colleagues to reimagine a community safety system that is right for Portland, and to make progress on dismantling the systemic racism that excludes more residents from participating in their government.

Communities still need safety responses and resources in times of emergency, but we must continue to look for alternative response efforts to roles that have traditionally been carried out by police. I support a path to more dialogue and innovation that result in action. I will work with my colleagues in the same way I’ve conducted myself with my peers and fellow advocates throughout my career: with collaboration, respect, and leading with my values. Together with the community we will make progress on dismantling the systemic racism that exists within our institutions.

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