According to Wheeler, one of these problems is Portland’s lack of affordable housing and trends in the development of minority communities without concern for gentrification.
“For a long time people have been priced out and moved out of this community” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said the development practices of the Portland Development Commission have furthered gentrification. He cites the now halted Trader Joe’s development at NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Alberta Street as a prime example. According to Wheeler, the PDC should have worked to secure agreements for jobs and apprenticeships, or for affordable housing.
So what would Ted Wheeler do as Mayor to end gentrification? He says he has already begun.
“I’ve asked [Mayor Charlie Hales] if he would withhold his nomination of the next director of the Portland Development Commission,” Wheeler said.
While the current mayor has every right to make this appointment, Wheeler says he wants to appoint a PDC director who is “mindful of how we help people who are impacted by development in this community.”
“If the mayor makes a choice, I certainly hope he includes my thinking around this,” Wheeler said, “that we really need somebody who looks towards the increasing breadth and diversity of this community and what we need outside of the downtown core.”
Specifically, Wheeler would like to see the PDC and its newly appointed director establish agreements between those proposing development projects and communities affected by them. These agreements would be integrated from a project’s start and would stipulate community support elements like the use of local labor and contractors for building, local procurement of materials, utilization of employees from the community, and affordable housing plans.
Wheeler also says he has a specific idea for development in the Rose quarter.
“As we develop it, wouldn’t it be great if Portland could be the first city in the United States to not only think about workforce and affordable housing, but think about inviting back some of the families that were historically moved out through gentrification and displacement.”
Wheeler isn’t sure how such a plan would work legally, but says “I think it’s important that we not only do the right thing today to stop that kind of displacement … but I feel like we can go further.”
You can listen to the entire conversation with Ted Wheeler in the audio player at the top of the page.