MACG
Parishioners testify at Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good meeting.
MACG
Parishioners testify at Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good meeting.

On Sept. 1, the conference room of the Portland Building was filled by citizens who ordinarily aren’t aware of the workings of agencies like the Portland Housing Bureau  and the Portland Development Commission. But the sizable venue was needed to accommodate large crowds marshaled by the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good, a group of 24 civic organizations that includes Catholic parishes.

The alliance, which has received funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, has a long history of standing up for issues to help low-income and working class Portlanders. It began in the 1980s when members of St. Andrew Parish in Northeast Portland were concerned about derelict properties in the neighborhood.

Now, the alliance is asking the city to dedicate more urban renewal funds to affordable housing. The Portland Housing Advisory Commission voted in favor of the idea to dedicated half of urban renewal money to the purpose.

The City Council is expected to vote on the allocation Oct. 21.

Early this year, the alliance held sessions at churches and civic halls, asking people to explain their most pressing concerns.

Portland's lack of affordable housing emerged as the dominant issue.

Kay Dickerson, a local volunteer patient advocate with OHSU, has lived in Portland since 2005 when she and her husband lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Dickerson submitted testimony explaining her struggle to find affordable and accessible housing for herself and her disabled husband. She called for “significant improvement in dedicated, affordable housing within our communities, so that no one has to face crises like these anymore."