Black Male Achievement: Mayor Hales was among 11 mayors nationwide to sign on to the Black Male Achievement initiative, which leverages community collaboration to improve changes for young, black men, who are disproportionately likely to drop out of school, be incarcerated, or be unemployed than their peers. The mayor invested $200,000 in the effort, and for the past year he has worked alongside a coalition of business and civic leaders to formulate a plan of action to tackle barriers in education, the criminal justice system and employment to achieve meaningful change.
Creating opportunity for former felons: The mayor directed the Human Resources department at the City of Portland to “Ban the Box” — no longer asking on the initial application if potential employees are former felons or if they are on parole. That box creates a tremendous barrier to success for people returning to society from prison; they can’t be contributing members of society if they’re not given the opportunity to do so. The AFL-CIO, Urban League and other partners are working to take the initiative citywide.
Federal minimum wage: Mayor Hales joined 64 mayors with the U.S. Conference of Mayors Cities of Opportunity coalition to call on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 for nearly 28 million workers nationwide — a step in promoting a living wage for all Americans.
I3PDX: The Portland Development Commission’s “Include. Innovate. Invest. PORTLAND” — known as I3PDX — campaign last year targeted 250 women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, veterans, and groups that aren’t well-represented in business, and connected them with Portland’s booming industries — software, clean technology, athletic and outdoor — through economic development work, networking programs, and business recruitment. The goal of I3PDX was to help make Portland entrepreneurship more accessible to more groups.
Startup PDX Challenge: Following its I3PDX success, the Portland Development Commission held a competition, the Startup PDX Challenge, offering winning start-up companies free rent for one year, a $15,000 grant, and $30,000 of in-kind services. The challenge attracted 140 applications from across the United States. Six teams won the full package, and five merit winners won a smaller package of in-kind services. Of those 11 winners, eight of the founders are women and five are people of color.
Short-term rentals: Last year, Mayor Hales advanced Portland’s sharing economy by making it one of the first cities to legalize short-term vacation rental business like Airbnb, which allow people to rent rooms in apartments and homes online for short visits. Now approximately 1,300 single-family short-term rental units (houses) and 2,085 multi-family units (apartment buildings) were legalized with policy reform.
Ride sharing: Another success in the sharing economy: In winter 2014, the ride-sharing business Uber (a cellphone application that allows users to call for a ride from Uber drivers, essentially taxi drivers in their own cars) started operations without obtaining a permit. Mayor Hales convinced them to cease operations for three months while the city completed its taxi policy reform process to allow ride sharing — the first city in the U.S. in which Uber voluntarily ceased operations after entering a market. By spring, regulations will be overhauled to ensure safe and equitable service for consumers, traditional taxi drivers, and new companies like Lyft and Uber.