As a November vote on a 20-year, $258.4 million affordable housing bond approaches, its backers have had an air of calm. Their first round of campaign finance filings shows why.
The bond campaign, Yes for Affordable Homes, has swept up nearly $170,000, the new filings show. It's got more than $107,000 on hand, in a campaign that's not revealed a hint of organized opposition to-date.
The money, collected since March, has only just become public because the housing bond only recently received a formal measure number: 26-179. State law says a committee can't be formed in support of a measure until that happens, but requires campaigns to keep tack of their donations and spending all the same. Yes for Affordable Homes is reporting nearly 120 individual contributions (some of which come in the form of pools of small donations from multiple people) from developers, politicians, philanthropists, social services, unions, and businesses.
By far the largest contribution, $50,000, is from Eric Lemelson, a Portland vintner and philanthropist (profiled by Willamette Week in 2004). Leland Larson, local patron of efforts like Right 2 Dream Too, has kicked in $10,000, the records show.
And quite a few folks have chipped in $5,000 to the campaign. Among them:
•Commissioner Nick Fish's campaign committee
•Developer Al Solheim
•Investor Donald Washburn
•Jim Kelly, founder of Rejuvenation
•New Seasons co-founder Stan Amy
•Portland shelter operator Transitions Projects Inc.
•Affordable housing provider Central City Concern
•Service Employees International Union Local 49
You can check out the full list here.
It's not surprising the bond campaign's got this much steam. One reason is all the attention and concern over Portland's housing crisis, which last fall spurred the city to declare a state of emergency, and which has already resulted in an array of new revenue streams for housing (a construction excise tax, for instance).
The second is that the campaign is backed by people who are really good at raising money. County Chair Deborah Kafoury and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman are "controlling" the committee. They've got more than three decades of experience in state, city, and county politics between them. Fish is also intimately involved in fundraising for the effort.
The housing bond you'll be voting on in November is Portland's first ever crack at this sort of thing. Other cities have done it for years—Seattle for instance, which just approved another housing bond last week.
If approved, the $238.4 million bond will create or preserve 1,300 affordable units that can house 2,900 people, backers have promised. The city is short around 24,000 affordable units, according to the Portland Housing Bureau.