We know there is a dire need for affordable housing. The question is: Should we pave the way for corporate interests to control production and ownership around this basic need?
A majority of us will vote for the measure. Why wouldn’t we? The measure has bipartisan support and is endorsed by the non-profit housing developers in our community. We like the mission of Habitat for Humanity, of NEDCO. Just this month, St. Vinnie’s opened 35 new low-income units in Springfield.
So what’s the concern? Let’s look at who directs these nonprofits: NEDCO’s board of directors includes executives from big banks and construction. Far bigger, Habitat for Humanity’s board of directors includes executives from Bank of America, Dow Chemical, GM and Cougar Drilling.
But if that isn’t concern enough, know that nothing in the amendment prohibits the public revenue going to for-profit developers. For-profit “affordable housing” enterprises are booming. In 2016, the Miller-Valentine Group, for example, posted revenue of $339 million.
The good news is Portland passed a $258-plus-million bond in 2016 to fund publicly owned affordable housing. They have already acquired hundreds of units newly set at affordable rents. Municipally owned housing stock is an important antidote to private sector exploitation and control.