Portland Housing Bureau Director Shannon Callahan is leaving her post after five years leading the city’s response to the region’s affordable housing crisis.
Callahan’s last day will be Aug. 1.
“It has been a privilege to work with the dedicated, passionate, and exceptional team of public servants at the bureau,” Callahan said, according to a statement in a press release announcing her departure. “After five years, though, it is time for me to move on to other opportunities and challenges.”
Before leading the housing bureau, Callahan served for over a decade as policy director for Commissioner Dan Saltzman where she helped usher in inclusionary zoning policies and protections for tenants, among other housing initiatives.
Maria Witt, an attorney with employment law firm Stutheit Kalin, said Callahan signed a severance agreement. But Witt emphasized it was Callahan’s choice to leave city government.
“She informed the City of her intent to resign and then submitted her voluntary resignation on Monday, July 18,” Witt wrote in an email. “Her departure was not in any way asked for by Commissioner Ryan or the City of Portland.”
OPB has a records request pending with the city’s human resources department for the severance agreement.
Callahan’s exit comes as the homelessness crisis continues to roil the city, and the number of people living on the street is far more than the number of housing units available to them. And it comes two months after the housing bureau mistakenly wired $1.4 million meant for a nonprofit housing provider to a fraudulent account.
In the city’s press release, Commissioner Dan Ryan, who oversees the housing bureau, and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler both credited Callahan with helping the city avoid a wave of evictions during the pandemic and successfully fulfilling the promises made to voters in the Portland Housing Bond, a $258 million bond package approved in 2016 to build more affordable housing.
According to the press release, the city has developed nearly 6,000 affordable housing units over Callahan’s tenure, and those are expected to house at least 10,900 people.
Ryan said he planned to carry out a national search to find Callahan’s replacement.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from Callahan’s attorney noting the circumstances of her departure.