Portland Businesses: We Must Work Together to Solve Our Housing Crisis

CC photo courtesy of Alejandro Rdguez

In 2017, we’re inviting our member businesses to author calls-to-action that align with our 2017 Focus Areas. Our March post is by Sarah Joannides, Director of Social Responsibility for New Seasons Market, who explains why New Seasons is advocating for public policy solutions to the issue of housing stability and affordability.

If you’ve ever visited a New Seasons Market, chances are you’ve met one of our friendly employees. They may have suggested a delicious new cheese, created a flower bouquet for a special occasion, or chatted with you as they bagged your groceries. We believe that our employees should be able to live and thrive in the neighborhoods where they work. We think this makes for a better customer experience, a better staff experience, and it’s the best way to bring vitality and a true sense of community to the neighborhoods where we build our stores.

But in today’s market, that’s become a real challenge. Due to skyrocketing rents, and the prevalence of no-cause evictions, we’re hearing from our staff that they’re being forced out of their neighborhoods, and having to move further and further away from where they work.

We are not alone. “It’s difficult to find qualified production workers for our Interstate Avenue clean-tech factory,” says Sam Pardue, CEO of Indow. “Rapidly increasing rents are pushing people to Portland’s outskirts, making it a challenge to sustain entry level jobs in the urban core.”

Cameron Madill, CEO of PixelSpoke agrees. “Every year we find that our employees are living further and further from our office in their efforts to find affordable housing, limiting their ability to take public transit or bike/walk, and it has become a real challenge in creating jobs that are desirable for millennials in the downtown area.”

Our state and our city are in a housing crisis. And it has become clear to us that we cannot deliver on our mission to support thriving employees and healthy communities unless businesses like ours engage at the city and/or state level to address the very significant social and economic challenges that we face today.

In partnership with BBPDX and TerraMai PDX, we’re inviting members of the business community to join us on April 17th for an event to address our housing crisis.

Come connect with community advocates on the frontlines of this issue and learn about how the business community can engage in solutions, be it public policy advocacy, community service, or philanthropy. Today, I am calling on BBPDX members to register for this event by April 2nd. We encourage you to spread the word to others in your organization and in your network. Registration will be open to non-members starting on April 3rd.

Our communities, and our businesses, are stronger when everyone has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.

As always, find us at bbpdx.org and learn about our past calls-to-action.