Building Affordable Housing

The premise of "Roofless" [WW, Sept. 28, 2016] is hard to argue with: Portland is in the midst of a housing crisis, it matters how the city spends its limited dollars addressing the problem, and the rules should be transparent and fairly applied.

However, we don't agree with how the author attempts to make scapegoats of nonprofit affordable-housing organizations that must compete for scarce dollars while navigating complex local, state and federal rules. These are mission-driven organizations working to provide safe and affordable housing for a growing number of families. Comparing the true cost of that work to back-of-the-napkin estimates is hardly fair.

Among the nonprofits cited is Portland's largest culturally specific provider of affordable-housing services—Hacienda Community Development Corporation. The WW sidebar "No Housing in Hacienda" completely misses the mark.

The loan that helped finance that project—a loan that must be repaid in full with interest—provided Hacienda with the opportunity to improve and increase affordable-housing services for thousands of Portland residents.

Thanks to the free foreclosure counseling, first-time homeownership classes, and resident services that Hacienda provides, families throughout our community have a safe, affordable place to call home.

—Angela Martin, board chair

Hacienda Community Development Corporation

We applaud Nigel Jaquiss and WW for bringing this issue to light. Your report raises important questions about how and where we should be investing in affordable housing.

With our partners, we are working to bring more than 700 affordable units to East Multnomah County, where quality affordable housing is in short supply. Local government's insistence on spending more money for fewer units in Portland's inner core comes at the expense of families and children.

Quality affordable housing can be built affordably. We are eager to work with government to build much-needed units, but happy to work without them if expensive real estate, red tape, and so-called "values" are prioritized over the thousands of families in need of safe, affordable housing.

—Rob Justus and Dave Carboneau, principals, Home First Development

Using Jail as Shelter

Wapato Jail is a solution that is already built (for $58 million), has been sitting vacant for more than 10 years and is costing us hundreds of thousands to sit empty ["Go Directly to Jail," WW, Sept. 28, 2016]. We should have been using it years ago. Eric Zimmerman is the first voice of reason.

—"oregongrown"

Eric Zimmerman is pushing to force those camping outside into the now-empty Wapato Jail. It is morally unacceptable to force people who are homeless into a jail. This is a sad example of a political candidate playing politics with the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.

—Rev. Chuck Currie

Letters to the editor must include the author's street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210. Email: mzusman@wweek.com.