As we are all short on time, I feel these three questions will tell me all I need to know about whether candidates would be housing champions on the City Council, which is what Eugene urgently needs to reverse the decades-long policies and attitudes that have combined to make the City the worst in the entire nation at its basic civic responsibility, housing its residents.
We urgently need City leaders who have the mettle to enact policies that are in the best interests of the community as a whole, not a vocal few, and who will start prioritizing the needs of those who have been underserved for decades — the citys renters (51% of the population), most of whom are of modest means (the median renter-household income is $26,000).
1. What is your plan to meet the Citys deficit of 13,500 units of housing affordable to the bottom third of earners? A chart on the Citys own website (bit.ly/EugeneHousing) shows we have needed this since at least 2016. Charts/graphs/other visual communication techniques are fine/encouraged.
2. Have you looked for a place to live in Eugene, as a lower-income renter, within the last five years? If not, have you talked with at least 10 people who have, and what did you learn?
3. What changes does Eugene need to make in its housing and/or land-use policy to meet its Climate Action Plan goals?
Bonus question, for extra credit (the one I am too-often asked by longtime homeowners, five years into a housing crisis in their city):
Why are there so many homeless people in Eugene?
A separate questionnaire about City policies on homelessness would be eminently possible, but that is not my area of expertise. I hope folks doing that work will circulate a similar questionnaire and share the results widely. I would suggest that Question #2 on that one should be <Have you been homeless in Eugene in the past five years? If not, have you talked to at least 10 people who are, and what did you learn?>
Most of the people unhoused in Eugene today are not mentally ill or drug-addicted (yet). They are modest earners or people on fixed incomes with little savings (deemed ALICE by researchers). Researchers agree that the #1 cause of homelessness in America today is the high cost of housing. National research shows that a $100 increase in rent is associated with a 6% to 32% increase in homelessness.
I believe the best way to <help the homeless> is to return to what Eugeneans used to be allowed to do — create, preserve, and build low-cost housing in every neighborhood. So that is what this questionnaire, and my work, is about.