Thomas Kerr

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Summer 2016


Housing -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Income distribution -- Portland Metropolitan Area


Homelessness is the most visible face of Portland's affordable housing crisis, but the numbers of street sleepers and tent campers are nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands of beleaguered tenants. They may be hidden away in their separate apartments, but they are suffering the effects of crisis all the same. Forty percent of the 900,000 households in the Portland Metro area are tenants, and half are paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent. A quarter pay more than 50 percent, and the percentages go higher as the households get poorer. Besides forcing them to impoverish themselves to pay for housing, the crisis is narrowing their choices, blighting their lives with frequent moves and compromising their ability to survive. Although we usually dedicate the interview to prominent officials and civic leaders, we decided, this time, to talk with two of Portland's low-income tenants, both active in the tenant movement, and get their take on the crisis and how these problems might be solved. Lynn Hager, 34, is finishing up her degree in community development at Portland State University after working for many years and having a child. Melissa Pyle, 26, works at PSU and is also in the final year of her community development degree. Here are some highlights from their discussion with Metroscape writer, Thomas Kerr.


Originally appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of Metroscape, published by the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, Portland State University

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