Portland city commissioner Erik Sten had every right in March 2007 to buy a house wherever he can afford. If that's a $1,285,000, 5,000 square foot home with a swimming pool in Southwest Portland with no public housing clients within view, that's his choice. However, it does beg the question: How does Sten explain that while he purports to support the rights of public housing clients, the record shows that he has actively worked against giving public housing clients the same opportunity for choosing the location of a place to live that he and his family enjoy?
Portland's Bureau of Housing and Community Development's published public housing location policy is:
1) Maximize housing choice, especially for low-income people who have traditionally been limited in the location of housing that they could afford;
2) Discourage the concentration of low- or no- income households in any one area of the city;
3) Encourage the creation of additional housing resources for low-income households integrated throughout the community.
Despite the fact that he knows that the Portsmouth neighborhood has the highest total and the second highest percentage of public housing clients of any neighborhood in Multnomah county, Sten has voted for and supported efforts time and time again to overload the Portsmouth neighborhood with public housing clients such as Columbia Villa, the notorious give away of surplus city property known as the John Ball School site for public housing, Hacienda CDC public housing project on N. Newell Street, PDC 30 percent public housing set aside.
He has refused to acknowledge that any plan to use the recently decommissioned Sharff Army Reserve Center, which is located in the Portsmouth neighborhood, for public housing would violate widely held public support for equitable distribution of public housing and the Portland Bureau of Housing and Community Development's published public housing location policy and would deliberately continue the discredited and abhorrent practice of unlimited concentration of public housing in the demonstrably overburdened Portsmouth neighborhood.
Sten has been more successful than any other professional politician in conning the public and the press into believing that he has a "progressive" view on the location policy of public housing clients. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Sten has done more that any other professional politician to make sure that public housing clients stay in their assigned neighborhoods. Sten has done more that any other professional politician to make sure that public housing clients do not have the housing location choices that he enjoys.