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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish (In Memoriam)

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589

Email: nick@portlandoregon.gov

1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Portland ranks number two in volunteerism nationwide

Barack Obama's service initiative has ranked Portland number two in volunteerism nationwide

July 30, 2009

The Portland metro area (Portland, Beaverton, and Vancouver) has been named #2 in the nation in percent of residents volunteering. Additionally, at 47 hours per resident, Portland ranks 4th in the nation in time given. All told, the value of Portland-area residents' volunteering totaled $1.6 billion dollars during the 12-month period between 2007 and 2008 studied.

Despite decreased incomes and increasingly scarce financial resources, folks across America are giving their time more than ever before. Young people in particular are coming out in droves - almost half a million young adults who had not volunteered in 2007 gave their time in 2008.

When ordinary citizens in our community and around the country are struggling to make ends meet and secure their basic needs, the plight of our most vulnerable residents has become even more acute.As non-profit service providers have seen sharp drops in financial donations, volunteers have become more important than ever.

We encourage to give your time however you're able. There are many opportunities to volunteer with the Parks and Housing bureaus, and we'd also like to draw your attention to Hands On Greater Portland, a local organization connecting Portlanders with time to give with volunteer opportunities in our area - these opportunities range from building homes to tutoring to serving on non-profit boards to removing invasive species from natural areas.

Council votes to continue fight against EPA-mandated treatment of Bull Run water

Commissioner Nick Fish and the Portland City Council voted to fight the EPA's LT2 mandate and seek a variance - barring that, the City will adopt UV technology to treat the water for cryptosporidium bacteria.

Commissioner Nick Fish and the Portland City Council voted to fight EPA-mandated treatment of the Bull Run watershed

July 30, 2009

As reported by Mark Larabee in the Oregonian, the Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to continue its fight against EPA-mandated treatment of the Bull Run watershed.

"The federal government insists that we solve a problem that doesn't exist and further insists that we pay for this folly," Commissioner Fish remarked during his vote following hours of testimony on the issue.

The City will continue to seek a variance exempting Portland from the EPA's blanket mandate, which directs the City to treat Bull Run water for cryptosporidium, a bacteria which hasn't been detected in the watershed for years.

Said Commissioner Fish, "we need to fight this misguided mandate in every venue."

If this effort proves unsuccessful, the Council has opted to treat the water with UV technology, a cheaper and less intrusive option than direct filtration, the other candidate.

From forest to faucet, the Portland Water Bureau delivers the best drinking water in the world - Council's action yesterday ensures that the City will fight to keep it that way.

Read the Commissioner's full statement in our 'News' section.

Thanks to Flickr user Sam Beebe/Ecotrust for this shot of the Bull Run reservoir

Governor Kulongoski signs important homeowner protection legislation

Governor Kulongoski and Commissioner Nick Fish appeared at Portland's African American Alliance for Homeownership this morning to sign into law SB628 and HB2189, borrower protection bills.

August 21, 2009

Portland's African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH) hosted Governor Kulongoski this morning for the signing of two important bills for Oregon's housing community.

The Commissioner joined Sen. Suzanne Bonamici, Rep. Paul Holvey, and Cheryl Roberts, Executive Director of AAAH, at the signing.

Senator Bonamici has been a tremendous leader on housing and consumer issues. Commissioner Fish was pleased to work with her and to co-author an op-ed for the Oregonian in early May making the case for more robust foreclosure protection for renters. 

SB 628 brings lenders and borrowers together to explore loan modification as an alternative to foreclosure, and HB 2189 protects borrowers from predatory lending practices by requiring all loan officers to be licensed with the state of Oregon and restricting misleading adverstising.

The consumer protection legislation signed into law by Governor Kulongoski today will adress some of the largest barriers faced by borrowers in our community. During the first half of 2009, Oregon ranked 11th in the nation in foreclosures, with Multnomah County hit hardest. Over the past three years, foreclosure rates have steadily increased across Oregon, and particularly in communities of color.

Local organizations as well are working to help renters and homeowners get free, reliable counseling to avoid fraud and explore all options for staying in their homes. Information about upcoming community events for homeowners and renters can be found on the Portland Housing Bureau website.

Urban League reports that Black Oregonians still face significant barriers to homeownership

The Urban League of Portland's recent Report shows little progress for black Oregonians over the last two decades.

August 3, 2009

The Urban League of Portland's troubling assessment of "The State of Black Oregon" prompts Marcus Mundy, the League's president, to caution that "we are on the precipice of turning back many gains of the civil rights movement in a real way."

Since 1979, unemployment among African-Americans in Portland has been worse than in the nation as a whole and any other West Coast city; the median income of African-American households in Portland is less than two-thirds that of white households.

Particularly concerning are the statistics around African-American homeownership in the Portland area. "Although much of our housing and economic policy encourages and rewards homeownership, non-Whites still face significant barriers to enjoying its benefits," the report asserts, noting that high-cost loans, at the center of the current housing crisis, are disproportionately held by African-Americans.

To close the homeownership gap and address this inequity, the report calls on "state and community leaders [to] support...creative responses that work outside traditional routes to homeownership and wealth accumulation." These nontraditional avenues include Habitat for HumanityCommunity Land Trusts, and Individual Development Accounts, offered by several groups in Portland.

As housing Commissioner, Nick is committed to reducing barriers to homeownership for all Portlanders. The new Portland Housing Bureau is charged with administering the Operation H.O.M.E. program, the City's effort to coordinate support for low-income homeownership. Operation H.O.M.E. focuses on closing the minority homeownership gap in Portland - a 2004 report showed that only 34% of African-Americans in Portland owned their home. The City's goal is to close this gap by 2015 - a goal made more urgent by the Urban League's findings.

Washington Park Summer Festival arrives!

Portland Commissioner Nick Fish kicked off the 2009 Washington Park Summer Concert Series, presented by Portland Parks & Recreation.

Nick and sponsor Gordon Sondland introduce the first Washington

August 4, 2009

60 years ago, Dorothea Lensch, Portland's first Recreation Director, founded the Washington Park Summer Festival. The Festival highlighted Portland's musical theater, big band, jazz, ballet, opera, and symphony, and, most importantly, ensured that the performing arts were free and accessible to all Portlanders.

60 years later, Dorothea's Festival has become a beloved Portland tradition attended by many thousands of people each summer.

The loss of its major sponsor put the Festival at risk this year. Thanks to the generosity of my friends Gordon Sondland and Katy Durant, along with donors across Portland, we are once again enjoying summer evenings with the Washington Park Summer Festival.

As Commissioner-in-Charge of Parks and a strong supporter of the arts in Portland, I am so gratified by the civic spirit our community showed in making this Festival happen once again.

Check out the Parks website for the full Festival schedule.

See more pictures in our Photo Gallery!