Portland Mayoral Candidate Sarah Iannarone Releases Her Housing Plan, Supporting a Tenants’ Right to Organize

"That seems to have been a very effective model for change-making," she says, celebrating tenants union victories.

Photo credit: Maddie Maschger

Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone will champion tenants' right to organize as part of her housing policy plan.

"That seems to have been a very effective model for change-making," says Iannarone, citing the tenant unions that have formed to support Portland renters, particularly at two housing complexes in Portland—Milepost 5 and Holgate Manor—where low-income tenants organized after their complexes were sold.

That's one element of Iannarone's housing policy program, which she's releasing today, that hasn't been part Mayor Ted Wheeler's efforts on housing.

Mostly, the ideas Iannarone offers are policy ideas that the incumbent has already talked about—a fact she tacitly acknowledges.

"It's not what he says," she tells WW. "It's what comes after."

Instead, Iannarone offers a critique of Wheeler's leadership on housing.

One example Iannarone offered: the residential infill project, the re-zoning effort under way for the entire length of Wheeler's term to allow more, smaller housing on property now zoned for single family zones of the city. Wheeler campaigned on the issue, but the policy has moved very slowly.

"Why is this so hard if he truly believes in it?" she asks. "Minneapolis started after us and finished before with a much more comprehensive policy. They went further faster."

Iannarone wants the city to develop a strategic plan for ending its housing emergency, which the previous mayoral administration declared in 2015; she wants to preserve and foster housing for aging Portlanders; she wants to lower construction costs by better coordination among the bureaus.

Iannarone's plan, which she calls Housing for All, is the third policy paper the campaign has released. The campaign says they expect to release three more.

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