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The Housing Crisis is Largely a Self-Inflicted Wound… And They’re Only Making it Worse

The scourge of homelessness has taken over downtown Portland the past few years.

Tents and piles of garbage are visible from multiple freeway exits and cluster all throughout the city. This problem has now spread beyond Portland and into many other cities throughout the state. We’re even seeing it in parts of Clackamas County.

Politicians are quick to suggest that more government programs, and more of other peoples’ money, will be needed to solve it. But what they fail to recognize is that government policies have been a huge part of the problem in the first place.

It’s true that Oregon suffers from a lack of affordable housing. What many people don’t know is that it is largely self-inflicted.

In 1973, the legislature passed Senate Bill 100, which established a statewide land use planning system. SB 100 and the bureaucracies it set up deliberately restrict the amount of land that can be used for housing.

Simple supply and demand states that if you artificially restrict the land that houses can be built on, the cost of that land will increase. And that’s exactly what has happened.

One of the reasons housing is so expensive in the Portland area is because the Metro council voted unanimously in 2015 against allowing more land to be used for housing.

Another reason is the layers of bonds, levies and property taxes proposed by various government agencies and passed by voters. Many voters who rent their homes are unaware that the increased costs of those measures end up being added to their rent, making their housing more expensive.

For example, Metro asked for over $600 million in bonds payable from property taxes for the sake of creating more affordable housing. Voters passed the measure in the November 2018 election and have very little affordable housing to show for it. I don’t expect this to change.

Governor Brown is also suggesting another tax on homes in the name of making housing more affordable. Oregon voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 79 during the 2012 election. That measure placed a permanent ban on real estate transfer taxes in the Oregon Constitution. But Brown now wants to undo the will of the people and use real estate transfer taxes to fund affordable housing projects.

In top of all that, Metro is proposing yet another measure aimed at giving its bureaucracy more money in the name of combating homelessness.

Do you see a pattern here? Government agencies create a problem, make it worse, then demand more money in the name of solving it. Those attempts to solve those problems often end up perpetuating them. In the end, we have the same problems, except they become institutionalized, bureaucratized, more expensive and worse than ever before.

The homeless issue in the Portland area is the result of supply not meeting demand. In other words, there are not enough available housing units for the number of residents who continue moving to the area.

What we should be doing instead is adopting policies to decrease the cost of buildable land by increasing its availability. Giving more taxpayer dollars, through increased property taxes and bonds and levies to be paid by property owners, to the same agencies that created the problem in the first place will never solve it.

As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I will work to prevent homelessness by advancing policies that promote affordable housing through common sense approaches. I will also work to make the American Dream of homeownership easier to obtain for residents of the county.

We are at a critical crossroads on these issues. It’s clear by now that a tax-centered, bureaucratic approach to housing issues has resulted in more taxes, more bureaucracy, more homelessness and less affordable housing. I am running for Clackamas County Commissioner because I believe the current approach is not working and it’s time to do something different.  

6 thoughts on “The Housing Crisis is Largely a Self-Inflicted Wound… And They’re Only Making it Worse

  1. Becky Lathrop says:

    I love your practical approach to the problems in our community. You have my vote Tootie.

  2. Cindy says:

    Paraphrased and some quotes taken from, “When Helping Hurts” by Joshua Charles for the Epoch Times.
    Benjamin Franklin, known for his generosity and charity, had brutally honest words about how helping actually hurts.
    “For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing. I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.
    In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. On the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” He goes on to ask if all Great Britain’s kindness is rewarded. Are the poor thankful and do they try to lighten the load of those who now pay for their care? No, the day they decided to pass a general law to tax the rich, “You took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety.”
    Instead of them depending on their youth and health to accumulate support in age and sickness, “You offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty.” He also says the recipients became, “more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.” We knew this but we let it happen. If anyone is to blame, it’s the teachers of history who failed to teach this important lesson.

  3. jon fraer says:

    buss the homeless east to the desert. Set up outdoor camps. Concentration camps . Get them put of the metro area.

  4. Steve Wiege says:

    It’s time to get Clackamas county out of Metro

  5. Alison Rhoads says:

    Tootie, my name is Alison Rhoads, and I am running for HD14. I have the same exact perception and understanding of the homeless/lack of affordable housing crises, and the same exact goal. I’ve outlined this in in many rant essays I’ve written on social media. I’m so glad I am not a lone. Thank you for writing this, it makes me feel optimistic about putting our heads together to fix the root cause of the problem. I want you to know that this is a very top priority for me, amongst many other exhorbitant and counterproductive taxes that exacerbate poverty. I am eager to work in the legislature to finally properly address these problems, and finally take the leash off of Oregonians so that they can prosper.

    I have been personally effected by Oregon’s decline over the last 11 years, having experienced homelessness and drug addiction myself in the past, and raising children a lone in an economy that isn’t friendly to families. Especially single parents making minimum wage. It all adds up, the taxes, the fees and regulations, the sanctuary state, the refusal to rework and open up zoning for more housing, the increased counterproductive and wasteful spending, the slush funds, the abuse of power by the state through DHS/CPS…It all makes sense now. None of this was an accident. And it can be undone, it is a disease that can be cured.

    Even though we are better than we were, and even though my husband is a hard working log truck driver, we currently still live below the poverty line. We are finally working our way up slowly, after years of needing assistance to survive. The cost of living continues to rise, and while they’re screaming for higher wages, we’re screaming for less taxes and fees. We are stuck in a two bedroom apartment in a crime-ridden area, and there is hardly any opportunity to find better, affordable housing. We are striving to be a middle class family, but we are stuck behind the giant roadblock which is the housing market. I want to be a farmer and welder/mechanic, but my American Dream seems to continue to be further and further out of reach as the democrats condemn us to live in unaffordable concrete jungles. I am not the only Oregonian that feels this way. And I cannot wait till we can fix this, and break down the barriers that hold us back. It tickles me pink to envision Oregonians flourishing.

    My district has profoundly become a magnet for the homeless. Mental illness and drug addiction plague many homeless, and even older folks are being forced into poverty and into the streets. Families are struggling to find homes, much less affordable ones. Crime, especially homeless related theft, effects nearly everyone who lives here on a regular basis. Including myself.

    I can’t sit here and watch my district and my state turn into the government dependent and controlled shitholes democrats want them to be. I truly believe that we can turn this around and show the voters what true prosperity and freedom feels like. Public morale would fill with hope and joy as the People begin to feel the differences in policy and leadership.

    I hope I can work with you someday with fellow legislators to draft a plan of action that we know will work. Together, We the People can set Oregon free from the chains of destitution and misery.

  6. tim boehm says:

    I have been saying this all my life, why does no one hear me!!! We started out with nothing today we are worth over 2 million dollars. We didn’t even have educations in the formal sense. Through hard work, self denial and drive we have gotten ahead. We lived among the poor saw their ways and it’s exactly as you said, helping them and making their lives easier only makes it worse. An old friend once said this to me “poor folks got poor ways” and this I have seen all my life.

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