A message from Tera on Covid-19 (CORONAVIRUS)
This pandemic has exposed what many of us have been fighting to fix for decades–the massive holes in our safety nets. The needs of our communities are unprecedented, and will continue this way into the future. We must act with intention and focus. We must be bold and not let jurisdictions and boundaries stop us from helping our neighbors and community. The response to COVID is ever-evolving and that means our plans need to be responsive to the greatest needs. The vision for Portland is so critical because as we rebuild we need to make sure we are following our values: people, place, and planet.
In these uncertain times, it’s hard to know what to do, what to think, or even how to feel. I have gone through what seems like every emotion over the past few weeks. As a single mom, I am not equipped to work full time and be a middle school teacher. I am grateful to have a job right now that allows me to work from home. a place for my son and I to be. I feel lucky to have a place to call home and to be able to afford to pay my mortgage–31% of ppl across the country couldn’t do on April 1st.
As a woman in recovery, I know how to take things one day at a time sometimes one hour at a time and that this too shall pass. We will absolutely get through this. But it is overwhelming and uncertain to know what our community will need once we have weathered this. It is critical to start laying the groundwork so we have the resilience to be ready to support our frontline workers, get small businesses back in operation quickly, and make Portlanders whole.
One of the many things I love about us here in Portland is that we never stop trying to make things better.Not just for ourselves. But for each other. And there is still MUCH more we can and should be doing NOW in order to make things better for ourselves, For everyone in our city.
Thanks to that good Portland stewardship, we are prepared. We have a rainy day fund and if ever there was a rainy day, this is it. But having money is only part of the solution. It’s what that money is used for that makes the difference between surviving and thriving. Therefore, Portland MUST use our reserves to create an emergency fund that is flexible as we learn of new needs in the community. We need to work with frontline communities and organizations to ensure they are getting what they need:
Our reserves should focus on keeping people working.
Invest in every Portlander by extending the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
Invest in every Portlander by scaling the funding to help small businesses weather this storm. The work Prosper Portland and the City are doing is good, it is simply not enough.
The City should tap into the rainy day fund as well as convene a table of philanthropy, big businesses that can weather the storm, and Portlanders with the means to contribute to fund recovery efforts. We must prioritize getting our small businesses up and running and hiring as soon as possible.
We need utilities to implement a bill forgiveness program for low income or unemployed families. We are using more energy and many people will not be able to get out of the deferred debt they are incurring due to this crisis.
Use our current city-owned buildings that are not in use such as community centers as shelters for our houselesss populations during this crisis and get ready to turn them into medical facilities as needed. We need more hotels like Jupiter who will house people who have nowhere to go when they test positive for COVID to help contain the spread in our houseless population.
Provide hazard pay to our frontline shelter and treatment center workers. It is becoming increasingly difficult for our houseless Portlanders to get the services they need because shelter workers are beginning to get Covid-19 and others are rightly concerned. The City MUST increase their pay AND provide the appropriate safety equipment to ensure the backbone of our social service system stays intact.
Partner with our tech community to develop and provide online curriculum for the thousands of Portlanders who otherwise would be in school but instead are at home and help teachers who want to connect with their students, but are struggling to transform their curriculum into online learning. Portland has a unique technology community that reflects our communitarian values and the City must capitalize on our tech neighbors to provide for online learning now.
Ensure every Portlander have free access to broadband internet and smartphones with a monthly plan. 13% of households in Portland do not have broadband access. Many Portlanders must have access to doctors, therapists and counselors, most of whom are now only seeing patients through telephone or video. We must make sure every Portlander has that ability.
Invest in our creative community and our arts and culture organizations to provide access to online concerts, lessons, classes and other opportunities for Portlanders to keep our brains active, engaged and learning during this crisis. Artists in Multnomah County alone have reported $46 million in lost revenue this quarter alone; and that is only growing as the pandemic goes on. We are a city rich with talent, with creativity and with community– the City must harness that energy and create a platform for all Portlanders to access it now while supporting artists and creatives losing income.
As your next City Commissioner, I will lead based on the values I share with you- the importance of community. The need to take care of each other. And the deeply-held belief that we Portlanders are different because not only do we plan for the future but we plan for each other.