Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office is about to lose one of its most-senior members.
Earlier today, the Portland Housing Bureau announced it's hired Shannon Callahan—a Saltzman aide for roughly a decade, who'd served as a liaison to the PHB during Saltzman's stint as housing director from 2013 to early this year. Callahan will serve in a new position at the housing bureau, a second assistant director position alongside current Assistant Director Javier Mena. In that role, she'll supervise the bureau's communications and policy and equity staff.
“The Portland Housing Bureau has grown substantially in the last two years with a trebling of financial resources,” PHB Director Kurt Creager said in a prepared statement. “This new position will be especially crucial in the administration and implementation of the Affordable Housing Bond. I can’t think of a better person than Shannon to fill that role.”
While there's no doubt Callahan has experience in housing policy, the timing of her departure has set off speculation in City Hall, where some wonder whether her new gig signals that Saltzman won't run for re-election next year, as planned—something his office emphatically denies.
Saltzman's campaign committee has been absolutely Hoovering up cash this month, pulling in a slew of donations of $500 or more. He reported receiving $3,000 yesterday alone, and has been paying long-time campaign consultant Mark Weiner, records show.
Interestingly, Callahan had a big role in creating the funding for her $118,123 position. As Saltzman's primary staffer assigned to housing, she helped craft the language the $258.4 million housing bond that Portland voters passed last November. That bond money will pay for her work.
"She will be compensated through that portion of the Housing Bond allocated for administration," Creager tells the Mercury. "She is a very strong and effective professional and will be enormously helpful to PHB and the City generally." According to the housing bond measure, administrative costs of the bond money are limited to a maximum of 7 percent, or about $18 million. Bond backers have promised to build or refurbish at least 1,300 units of affordable housing with the remaining money.
"I'm obviously incredibly sad to lose her, but it's an opportunity," says Brendan Finn, Saltzman's chief of staff. "There's no way to fill the gap because of all the things she does for our office."
Callahan's new position begins August 1. Read the full announcement after the jump.
Portland, OR – On August 1, 2017, Shannon Callahan, longtime Policy Director for Commissioner Saltzman, will join the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) as the Assistant Director for Policy and Strategy. With the support of Mayor Wheeler, PHB will for the first time operate with two Assistant Directors.
“I am pleased to see Shannon Callahan join the Portland Housing Bureau as the Assistant Director for Policy and Strategy,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Shannon will provide the additional support and capacity necessary for the bureau to address the Housing Emergency and the implementation of the Affordable Housing Bond. As Housing Commissioner, I am committed to ensuring quality, affordable housing is accessible to all Portlanders, and look forward to this additional support to make this a reality.”
Callahan has worked closely with the Portland Housing Bureau since 2013 in her role as Policy Director for Commissioner Dan Saltzman. During her 10+ years with Commissioner Saltzman’s office, she has worked on a variety of programs and policies – enacting local payday loan regulation, creating the City’s first one-stop service center for domestic violence victims (now known as the Gateway Center), redesigning the Fire and Police Disability and Pension System and Board, and assisting with a wide range of housing policy initiatives including the affordable housing bond, inclusionary zoning, and first-step tenant protections.
Prior to joining the City, Callahan worked as a staff attorney on consumer protection legislation and provided advice to tenants on landlord/tenant law. She is a community college graduate, earned a BA at Evergreen State College, and a JD from Lewis & Clark College of Law.
“The Portland Housing Bureau has grown substantially in the last two years with a trebling of financial resources,” said PHB Director Kurt Creager. “This new position will be especially crucial in the administration and implementation of the Affordable Housing Bond. I can’t think of a better person than Shannon to fill that role.”
Callahan will join Javier Mena, Assistant Director for Development and Asset Management, and Leslie Goodlow, Business Operations Manager, as the Senior Staff in the office of the Director.