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Working Group Seeks Alternatives To Street Fee

Representatives from non-profits and affordable housing groups in Portland met Tuesday to discuss a controversial proposal for a street user fee.

Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick have proposed the fee to raise roughly $40 million a year for a backlog of paving projects and street safety. Those who would pay the fee include businesses, schools, non-profits and residents of all incomes.

Sean Hubert, with the group Central City Concern, says he understands the need for more transportation funding. But he says the cost of living in Portland is rising. And a new fee of $8 a month is a lot for low-income families to bear.

“You’re now seeing people on the lower economic rungs that are actually paying 50, 60, 70 percent of their monthly income on rent. And it’s the entirety of that that really places people at risk,” Hubert said.

The working group discussed options like exemptions or cash vouchers to help very low income residents afford the street fee, or replacing the fee with a progressive income tax.