October 2018 Newsletter

OCTOBER 2018 NEWSLETTER

The Interfaith Alliance newsletter is produced by Poverty Awareness Communication Team

To contact: Email Bonniejgregg@msn.com;

Alliance members include: Westminster Presbyterian, Fremont United Methodist, Congregation Beth Israel, Madeleine Catholic Parish, First Unitarian, St. Andrews Catholic Parish, Rose City Park Presbyterian, Augustana Lutheran, Genesis Community Fellowship, Ainsworth United Church of Christ, Grace Memorial Episcopal, and Central Lutheran working with St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Parish and Community Partners

“We have a calling to empower every brother and sister in our community facing hardship and hopelessness. We walk together as an alliance of interfaith communities because we believe doing things together is better than doing them alone. We lead with our hearts and open our minds to understand the causes of poverty and the challenges of escaping it. We work hand-in-hand with families living in poverty by encouraging and supporting them as they move to stability. We boldly advocate for systemic change to help eliminate the root causes of poverty. We know the road is long but we believe as Martin Luther King, Jr. did when he said, “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase."
Tom Hering Website: allianceonpoverty.org



FIRST THURSDAY OCTOBER 4 MEETING

Meeting will be held from 12:00-2:00, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 NE Hancock. The program will include an exercise “Sacred Cows” from Donna Beegle’s Communication Across Barriers curriculum. Jessica Rojas and Kathryn Moran will lead the group in exploring how public policy impacts those in poverty. In the second half of the meeting, we will focus on some organizational issues and review strategies for each of the three areas, advocacy, transition to stability and becoming poverty informed, and for the organization as a whole.

NOTE: LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTER GUIDES WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THIS MEETING.


THE 1887 MORRISON BRIDGE – “LONGEST BRIDGE WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER”

The Morrison Bridge, the first bridge to span the Willamette River, was completed in April 1887. It was a wooden truss swing-span bridge, connecting the east and west banks of the Willamette River. At that time it was the longest bridge west of the Mississippi River. The new connection spurred explosive growth in East Portland, where a railroad already linked that city to Salem. Streetcars traveled between the two towns and more bridges followed. Heavy use and new demands required that the original Morrison Street Bridge be replaced in 1905, and again in 1958.

WESTMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: 1894 TO PRESENT

Seeing the new bridge and all the growth happening on the east side of the river, members of the First Presbyterian Church located in downtown Portland decided they needed to have a church there. The first Westminster “eastside” congregation met in a restaurant and firehouse until a wood and stone building was built in 1894 at NE 10th & Weidler. By 1910 the congregation had outgrown this building and construction began on a new sanctuary in 1912. The church was dedicated on Easter Sunday, May 1914. In 1929 a two-story office was completed on NE Schuyler. In 1953 a two-story brick and stone education wing was added along NE 16th Street. The three buildings form a semi-enclosed “cloister” surrounded by a courtyard and playground for children.

Westminster declared their mission: “to proclaim and share the good news of Jesus Christ; to be a welcoming and nurturing Christian community; to gather to worship God with reverence, joy and beauty; to seek a deeper relationship with God through prayer, study and fellowship; to respond to human needs, witnessing to God’s love and compassion day by day; and to foster justice, promote human rights, and advance peace in our neighborhood, our city, and our world.”

In the fall of 2015, Westminster called upon their neighbor congregations to join them in an Interfaith Alliance on Poverty in Portland. Westminster sponsored the organization which has now grown to 13 faith-based congregations and a number of community partners.

They also support a number of ministries including the Northeast Emergency Food Network, Grace Memorial Evening Meals, Habitat for Humanity, Mainspring Portland, Operation Nightwatch, together with seasonal projects such as Soup, Socks & Sweatshirts (winter); bread for the world (spring); Crop Hunger Walks (spring); Christmas in July (summer); Thanksgiving Good Drive (November; Angel Tree (December).

In addition every third Saturday of the month at 5:30 PM, members of the prayer team lead a Taize service in the sanctuary. Participants are offered the opportunity to receive the laying on of hands and prayer, to pray silently in the pews, or to light a candle.

The “Cloisters Art Gallery” is located within the Westminster complex, displaying the work of creative artists. Current show is “VISIONS OF GUATEMALA, WORKS By BENEDICTO LXTAMER, September 16 through October 28, 2018.


FORUM REPORT - “FAITH & WHY UNIONS MATTER“

by David Groth

On Sunday, September 23rd, Westminster Presbyterian Church hosted a forum sponsored by the Oregon Coalition of Christian Voices, Jobs With Justice, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty on “Faith and Why Unions Matter.”

The forum focused on the relationship between declining labor unions and increasing income inequality. The keynote speaker, Dr. Martin Hart-Landsberg, professor emeritus of economics at Lewis and Clark College, described how the rise of inequality in the U.S. over the past forty years has coincided with a concerted effort on the part of business, and conservative advocacy groups, sometimes with government support, to reduce the ability of unions to provide effective representation for workers. As a result, the percentage of unionized workers in the private sector fell from about 30% in the 1970s to around 6% today. This steep decline in union power is one of the main factors accounting for the stagnation of wages and benefits experienced by most workers and the deterioration of working conditions over that period. Dr. Hart-Landsberg emphasized that unions can be a corrective force assuring the God-given dignity of workers by providing them with a stronger voice in the work place.

Responses to Dr. Hart-Landsberg’s presentation were given by Father Jack Mosbrucker, a retired Catholic priest and long-time labor activist, and Sunita Patel, a Legacy Health System employee who recently helped organize support workers at Emanuel Hospital. Both told very moving, personal stories about how the union movement had helped lift their families out of poverty and provide them with a dignified life. Their presentations were followed by a lively discussion moderated by Will Laying from Jobs With Justice.




NOVEMBER ELECTIONS

League of Women Voters of Portland “Making Democracy Work!”

Never has your vote been more important! The Interfaith Alliance on Poverty has co-sponsored with the League of Women Voters the following forums to enable you to learn about candidates and issues.

Watch these debates including both candidates for each office and pro & con speakers for each measure.


OCTOBER 2, 7 – 9 PM

Portland Commissioner Position3, JoAnn A Hardesty vs. Loretta Smith

ALSO OCTOBER 2:

Ballot Measure 103, prohibiting taxes/fees for “groceries”

Ballot Measure 26-201, Portland’s retailer surcharge for clean energy projects.


OCTOBER 9, 7 – 9 PM

Multnomah County Auditor, Scott Learn vs. Jennifer McGuirk – in partnership with the City Club of Portland

ALSO OCTOBER 9:

Measure 105, repealing the law limiting state and local enforcement of federal immigration laws

Measure 26-199, Metro affordable housing bonds

Measure 102, allowing local bonds for financing affordable housing with nongovernmental entities

Both evenings will start at 7 pm in the Multnomah County Boardroom, to the right off the lobby of 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd.


VOTE: TO SUPPORT AFFORDABLE HOUSING!

By Sarah Carolus and Bonnie Gregg

Allison McIntosh and Lynn Peterson

There is a state-wide “housing crisis” in Oregon. At the September 6 First Thursday meeting of the Interfaith Alliance, held at the Madeleine Parish, we learned that affordable housing is not only a problem for Portlanders, but for those in rural areas, both east of the mountains and along the coast. The coastal rental market has outpriced its’ service industry work force. This is true everywhere. Low-income workers, confronted with rising rents, are struggling. With most of the money going to rent, there is little left to cover other expenses. For some two-income households, the loss of one job - means loss of shelter, too. Fortunately, Oregon voters have an opportunity to improve this situation. Join us in voting to pass both Ballot Measure 102 and Metro Bond Measure 26-199 on the November 6, 2018 Ballot.

Alison McIntosh, Deputy Director of Policy and Communications at Neighborhood Partnerships, where she convenes the Oregon Housing Alliance, explained how passing Measure 102 will fix an outdated provision of the Constitution which now prevents local governments from financing affordable housing with non-profit/non-governmental partners and/or using federal/private funds together with bond money. Ballot Measure 102 will enable local governments to finance affordable housing with non-profit and non-governmental partners. They will also be able to combine federal funds and private capitol along with the bond money.

Lynn Peterson, newly elected President of the Metro Council, advised that Metro Bond Measure 26-199 will authorize $652.8 million in bonds to fund affordable housing in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties. Bonds will be used to build affordable housing to purchase, rehabilitate and preserve existing housing, buy land for affordable housing, and prevent displacement. Priority for housing will be for low-income families, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities. Units will be required to remain affordable. Each County will get a share of the money – 21% to Clackamas, 43% to Multnomah, 31% to Washington. Money goes to the housing authority in each country.

IF BOTH BALLOT MEASURES PASS: Over the next 5 years, 3,900 units will be created and 12,000 people will be served!

LET’S DO THIS!


BENEATH THE CATALPA TREE

by Marilyn Robb, Madeleine Parish

I have discovered the Kingdom of God. It is not inside the walls of an opulent manmade building, but beneath the massive branches of the Catalpa Tree.

It is where the pigeons gather and eat the crumbs dropped by the hungry and homeless workers.

I have discovered the Kingdom of God. It is not inside the walls of an opulent manmade building, but beneath the massive branches of the Catalpa Tree.

It is where the “porta potties” hug the fence. It is where the tables are loaded with food, and “ritualistic” handwashing is done with “Wet Ones” from a plastic jar.

I have discovered the Kingdom of God. It is not inside the walls of an opulent manmade building, but beneath the massive branches of the Catalpa Tree. It is within the hearts of those who bring the food, and share their love and recognize the faces of Christ, beneath the massive branches of the Catalpa Tree.


NOTE FROM “MADDIE’S CART

Marilyn Robb noticed the Kingdom of God as she was sharing coffee and conversation last week, and wrote the above poem. Who would have thought it was right there, at MLK and Everett, right before our eyes?

Thank you so much for your wonderful support of Maddie's Cart and the men and women (and children) living outside in our community. It is so good to have your support and love. I'm not sure if I'm just seeing it because I want it to be true, but I am noticing that the folks we see every week are looking better. They seem more upbeat, they look better physically, and they spend more time with us just hanging-out and talking. I know they are looking for us to arrive each week. I also know this is only happening because of your generous heart and hands. I hope you can join us this Monday in every way you can. We need your prayers; we need your sandwiches, cookies, hard boiled eggs, and chips; we need your presence; we need your heart and soul to share and embrace the Kingdom of God. .… In love, Dn. Mike



NEW MOBILE HOME ZONING LAWS”PASSED BY CITY HALL

by Bonnie Gregg

After hearing testimony from park residents, low income advocates - including many Interfaith Alliance members - together with park owners, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, "The City wants to support the long-term stability of these parks." Commissioner Amanda Fritz said, "These are wonderful communities, wonderful places to live, with a real sense of belonging.”

The City Council enthusiastically passed new zoning laws. According to the City of Portland Planning Commission, “today, roughly 3,000 households live in manufactured dwelling parks (MDP), mostly in East Portland. The zone changes will support the continued operation of these mobile home parks. They will: Resolve nonconforming uses, ensuring the parks will not be converted to other uses such as single or multi-family housing; create an affordable housing bonus to incentivize the creation of affordable units; Increase density at 52 MDPs, providing financial incentives for park owners and allowing more housing units to be created on these sites; expand density transfers to any other sites outside the Central City, thus monetizing the property even if additional units cannot be supported. Together, these changes should help protect the residents of these communities from displacement.

OPB Report, by Amelia Templeton, 8/23/2018, tells why residents worked so hard to achieve mobile home zoning change.

“On a recent weekend, community organizer, Myra Torres knocked on doors at the Arbor Mobile Home Park in northeast Portland. Her kids, 5-year-old Adriel and 3-year-old Sammy, tagged along. The Arbor, where Torres lives, has narrow streets lined with about 130 manufactured homes. Next to the homes sit tomato plants, rose bushes and neat stacks of firewood. Torres was giving her neighbors fliers explaining a proposal to change Portland’s land use regulations and give manufactured home parks their own special zone.

“I care because this is my stability for my children,” Torres said. “We’ve been in this Cully neighborhood for about 13 years, so this is community. This is home.” Torres, 25, works at a nearby church and owns her trailer. She spends about $500 a month renting the lot beneath the trailer, which has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. That’s about half what nearby apartments cost monthly. When Torres first moved to the Arbor, she thought she and her husband would live in the park until they saved enough for a down payment and buy a conventional home. “But the way the prices of the homes have been going crazy up, and all the apartments as well, it becomes more of a permanent thing to do, rather than for just a couple of years,” she said. Living in a manufactured home park comes with unique opportunities — and costs. Residents often own their trailers or homes and rent the land the units sit on.

Like other homeowners, they can invest in their properties, repaint and keep pets. At the Arbor, residents have built garages, trellises and sheds. In one backyard, a duck and a small dog keep each other company. But manufactured homes, particularly the older models, tend to depreciate. And many of the homes in Portland’s parks are too fragile to move, making the residents’ investments risky. Laura Perasa, one of Torres’s neighbors, estimates she’s spent $5,000 fixing up her trailer. “If this place was closed down, there’s no way we could move this house. It’s old, we’ve added on an addition,” she said. “We would lose that investment.” The managers of the Arbor say its owners have no plans to close the park, in fact, they’re urging residents to sign longer leases. But with new apartments going up all over Cully, the park’s residents worry their home could be the next attractive target for developers. The city’s manufactured home parks comprise about 3,000 households. That’s a relatively small number, but it includes many low-income Latino families, such as the Torreses, and seniors and people with disabilities and on fixed incomes. https://www.opb.org/news/article/portland-mobile-home-park-zoning-rule-change-city-council/

THE ARBOR PARK MOBILE HOMES RAFFLE NEEDS YOUR HELP!

Please donate your gently-used & new electronics

Residents of Cully neighborhood’s Arbor Manufactured Home Park have begun turning their park into a resident-owned cooperative. They are working with St. Vincent de Paul who is in the process of purchasing the Arbor which was put up for sale in July. The goal of all is to preserve the park as affordable housing.

Arbor folks need your help with covering the cost of their many organizational meetings to become a cooperative: printing flyers, Spanish/English interpretation services, child-care and dinner costs for families who meet directly after work.

Your raffle donations of gently used and new electronics (including iPads, televisions, video game sets, cameras, music players, Bluetooth sets) will help make this good work possible. Contact Marilyn Mauch for questions and donation pick-ups at m_mauch@comcast.net.


PHFS staff and board celebrating in front of new Lents shelter

“Our entire village came together and generated $3.3million in just five months to purchase this campus that will shelter 26 families at a time in private rooms, expand our homeless prevention and life skills program. It has room to develop more affordable housing units in the future.

In May 2016, the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty hosted a seminar conducted by Dr. Mandy Davis, Director of the Trauma Informed program at Portland State University. Dr. Davis stressed the importance of providing welcoming space for those surviving the trauma of poverty. Portland Home First Solutions has incorporated that concept into their new facility in the Lents neighborhood. “We are focusing on trauma informed space design and color palette. Our driving principles are to build dignity, restore power, and promote autonomy. Our aim is to value every individual in our space.” They are working with a professional design and architecture team from Jessica Helgerson Interior Design and Carleton Hart Architecture, “accomplished professionals”, who are both of are donating their time pro bono.


UPCOMING EVENTS - MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND JOIN US

October 20

On Saturday, October 20, from 6-10 PM, Ainsworth United Church of Christ, a founding member of the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty, will be holding their annual celebration:

“AINSWORTH IN THE CITY” at Colwood Golf Center,

7313 NE Columbia Blvd. Portland, Oregon.

Dinner Tickets: $50 per person

Everyone is invited to join them for their silent and oral auction, entertainment, raffle, fellowship, and delicious buffet dinner prepared and served by Dennis and Angie Harris, master barbeque specialists!

October 28

Income Inequality: How Did This Happen?

Come join us on Sunday, October 28th,  to see a video presentation by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, discuss income inequality from 2:00-4:00 PM  at Augustana Lutheran Church, 2710 NE 14th Avenue, Portland.  A faith discussion will follow.  This event is sponsored by the Oregon Coalition of Christian Voices, the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty, EMO, and Jobs with Justice.

November 1

First Thursday meeting of the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty will be held at Fremont United Methodist Church, 2620 NE Fremont, from 12:00-2:00 PM. Rev. Erin Martin will be speaking about affordable housing on church property.

Tom Hering