As a Beaverton City Councilor, I will serve the people with honor, integrity, and respect.
While I was volunteering for the Beaverton Severe Weather Shelter, one woman’s situation became a deeply personal reminder of the human toll of homelessness. She was always exhausted and hungry. She would arrive just before 9pm, after dinner was over, dressed in a business suit after working long days and taking several buses to get to us. After sleeping on the floor on a mattress, she would get up early, make herself presentable, and head back to work before breakfast was served.
I want to place the human toll of homelessness front and center of our policymaking conversations about addressing homelessness. Homelessness is a traumatic and devastating experience for anyone’s self-respect and sense of dignity. When it comes to homelessness, I know that compassion and empathy are crucially important qualities for decision makers to have before creating enormous programs and throwing money at the problem. Homelessness is incredibly complicated and the roots of homelessness are
poorly understood. We must remember that the experience of homelessness is
unique to each and every person.
As many as 2,000 Beaverton students experience homelessness every year, many of them unsheltered. Anticipating the City’s continuing growth, more than 11,000 additional housing units are needed by 2035. We have Beaverton’s 2019 Housing Five-Year Action Plan—which I fully support. We are appropriately focused on serving people experiencing homelessness—providing shelters and transitional housing, making homes affordable through homebuyers assistance programs, and increasing housing supply by removing development code obstacles, and strategic land acquisition and development incentives.
Nevertheless, I will remember that this “issue” is about people—people like the woman at the shelter. The City has a sacred duty to make homelessness a brief and rare experience.