East Portland and North Clackamas must make a fundamental decision. Do we stand by and watch as our neighbors are forced onto the streets, living paycheck to paycheck, in fear that we could be next? Or do we come together and fight for a people’s agenda that brings security and stability to all? Are we ready to take on those in power, whose cynicism has forgotten the hard working people of our district and those throughout Oregon?
There is a rental housing state of emergency in Oregon, with Senate District 24 one of the hardest hit. Our current representation made a strong public statement, siding with business interests and blocking important legislation that would have helped to relieve the constant fear of being evicted or priced out. Now is the time that we rise up and stand up to those who would treat renters as commodities. Together the people of Senate District 24 are strong, and we can collectively elect leadership for change and stability.
SAFETY FOR ALL
District 24 includes some of the most dangerous traffic intersections in the state. Our challenges also include poor air quality, as well as lack of sidewalks and crossings. But the dangers don’t stop there. Youth, seniors, and hard working people are unfairly subject to unprovoked police stops. This level of often race and class based profiling diminishes public safety and undermines community trust. District 24 is also home to many DACA recipients and DREAMers, hardworking immigrants, religious minorities, and families with mixed immigration status. Many of our neighbors are under siege by Trump’s Executive Orders and immigration policy, and it will be up to our elected leaders—working alongside the community—to protect them.
While lawmakers protect real estate and other industry profits, people are left with dwindling supports and often no choice but to live on the streets. Our neighbors battle the the perils of drug activity and acute physical and mental health issues, all without a place to call home. When people are suffering with addiction and health crises, our entire community suffers with them, and we are all less secure. It is time for us to address the root causes of our neighborhood issues and invest in true community livability.
District 24 schools are some of the most diverse in the state, and our young people are overcoming incredible odds to succeed. We have high rates of poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness. Many students come from immigrant and refugee families and need extra help to catch up to their peers. Our schools require adequate funding and support, and the fact that we spend more per person on incarceration than education should outrage every Oregonian. The most recent state budget came $200 million short of meeting our educational needs. It’s time to reverse this trend and invest in our children, not in prisons.
While Oregon’s job market looks far better today than it did during the depths of the Great Recession, many of my neighbors are still waiting on the so-called recovery. Senate District 24 residents are working harder than they did before, working more hours than they used to, or holding several jobs at the same time to make ends meet. For my neighbors who found full-time employment, often those jobs were at lower salaries. Add to this skyrocketing rents, child care costs, health insurance with high deductibles, and an ever-increasing cost of living, and it’s no wonder families are barely getting by. In fact, 26.4% of families in East Portland and North Clackamas rely on food stamps and other forms of support to feed their children and meet basic needs. For families of color, the picture is even more dire. While the median household income for District 24 white families is $47,800, for Hispanic or Black families that number is $32,200 and $29,400 respectively. Breaking the cycle of poverty will require a rebalancing of our priorities from giving people a "leg up" to giving them a way out.
WE ALL BELONG
As a former refugee, I know how essential trusted civic and cultural ties can be to ensure safety, stability, and success in life. There is a strong sense of community and collective duty in East Portland that drew me to now call it home. We are industrious, resilient, and powerful—and we all belong. I have worked with the people of East Portland and North Clackamas for nearly twenty years as a community organizer and advocate, and I will keep fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with you for the residents of District 24 as your next State Senator.