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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish (In Memoriam)

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589


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

PHB Director Margaret Van Vliet in Street Roots

August 21, 2009

Director Van Vliet's letter to the editors of Street Roots, published in the August 21 edition of the paper:

"Regarding "We're losing ground; Time to charge" (Editorial in Aug. 10 Street Roots):

I have long admired Street Roots for its straightforward approach to covering the issues that most affect Portland's homeless community. And as the new director of the Portland Housing Bureau, I was naturally very interested in your recent editorial inviting the City to "make the charge," by tackling our current housing crisis.

I could not agree more. The time for bold, new approaches is upon us, and we must set about our work with creativity and an honest, strategic look at what is working and what is not. I have a personal sense of urgency around trying to get ahead of the economic mess that is wreaking havoc on our old housing strategies. What's more, I am convinced that my colleagues in city government - including our elected leaders - absolutely share that sense of urgency. Indeed, these factors are what led me to accept Housing Commissioner Fish's offer of the top job at the new bureau.

While it's true that we face greater challenges than ever before, I have great hope. I am hopeful because in spite of the recession, tremendous progress is being made in helping those who need it most: Portland will soon break ground on the landmark Resource Access Center that will help hundreds of homeless and formerly homeless individuals each day.

People who use a Section 8 voucher to pay their rent will have a much easier time finding a good apartment thanks to a unique collaboration between the City, the Housing Authority of Portland, and area property owners. One hundred five homeless veterans will soon have permanent homes, because housing and VA leaders here have made it a priority to change the way they do business.

And with the support of our partners, we are investing our share of stimulus funds into worthy and "shovel-ready" projects, allowing us to stretch our local dollars even further.

Can we do more? Absolutely. Do we need a comprehensive new strategic plan that reflects today's economic realities, yet leaves room for flexibility? Of course. And can we do more to engage members of our community who most need a voice on issues of poverty? Certainly.

I am counting on Street Roots to continue to watch Portland's housing system closely and offer insightful and challenging commentary as we move into a new era.

In the meantime, let there be no doubt: we have taken up the charge."

RAC plans clear Design Commission

The Resource Access Center has cleared the City of Portland's Design Review process and is set to finalize funding and break ground in the Fall of 2009.

August 21, 2009

Resource Access Center (RAC) in Portland Oregon

Step by step, the Resource Access Center (RAC) moves closer to becoming a reality.

Thursday night, the Bureau of Development Services' Design Commission approved plans for the RAC, clearing the way for the project's next steps. 

Commissioner Fish has been working closely with the Housing Authority of Portland and its design team for the past nine months. The collaborative process HAP led resulted in strong support from community members, engineers, service providers, architects, and representatives of the housing community, many of whom spoke at Thursday's meeting.

A cornerstone of the City's 10 Year Plan to End Homeless, the RAC will be a beautiful gateway to downtown Portland from the Broadway Bridge. Build to the highest green standards, the RAC will set a new standard for public buildings serving homeless populations.

Finalization of funding is anticipated for the third week of October, with groundbreaking expected to follow soon after.

Community rallies to repair Earl Boyles Community Garden

Commissioner Nick Fish and neighbors worked August 22 to repair the Earl Boyles community garden, vandalized the previous week.

August 24, 2009

Volunteers arrived from as far as Monmouth Saturday morning at the Earl Boyles Community Garden in SE Portland to donate their time to repair the garden, damaged earlier in the month by vandalism. Close to 100 people gave their time in a show of support for the garden, which has been vandalized several times this season.

Volunteers donated plant starts, pulled weeds, and cleaned up the many plants damaged beyond repair by the vandalism. Each time the garden has been vandalized, community members - gardeners and non-gardeners alike - have stepped up to restore the land.

In addition to giving their time, many of the volunteers arrived with fresh vegetables to donate to those who had lost their harvest. Extra produce was given to a local food bank.

"We're going to take steps to make sure this never happens again," the Commissioner told volunteers.

Expanding and promoting Portland's Community Gardens program is one of the Commissioner's top priorities. For more about how you can be involved with a garden, visit the Parks Bureau's website -

See more pictures of this event in our Photo Gallery! 

Community Gardens initiative takes giant step forward

Commissioner Fish announced that his Community Gardens initiative has been selected as an Oregon Solutions project by the office of Governor Kulongoski

August 26, 2009

Nationwide, over 1 million Community Gardens serve millions of people and their communities. They serve as neighborhood gathering places, provide space for gardeners to grow their own affordable, healthy produce, and nurture the social fabric of our communities.

Today in Council, Commissioner Fish announced that Portland's Community Gardens Program is poised to expand dramatically over the next several years.

Governor Kulongoski has selected the Parks Bureau's Community Gardens Program as an Oregon Solutions project. Oregon Solutions works to facilitate a model of community governance based on principles of collaboration, integration, and sustainability.

Over the next six months, Oregon Solutions will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders and craft an approach to meet the rapidly growing demand for Community Gardens here in Portland - "we will find a way to meet the increasing demand to grow food here in Portland," the Commissioner promised.

Last weekend's community rally to repair the Earl Boyles Community

Garden in SE Portland. See more pictures in our Photo Gallery!  

Nick's Annual Report

Find out what Nick's been up to during his first year in office


August 27, 2009

Dear Friends, 

This summer marks my one year anniversary on Portland City Council. 

I took office in June of 2008 as Commissioner-in-Charge of Portland Fire & Rescue and the Bureau of Housing & Community Development. In January, Mayor Adams asked me to lead the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau, and to create a new 21st-century Portland Housing Bureau. 

I could not have asked for better, more rewarding, assignments. 

This past year, our community faced many challenges. None was bigger than the worst recession in our lifetime. Hunger, homelessness and unemployment rose to historic levels. This crisis has caused each of us to rethink our priorities and refocus on helping those in need.

I am inspired by the way Portlanders responded to these challenges: volunteering in record numbers to support non-profits; providing emergency shelter to homeless families and individuals during the winter weather emergency; answering the call to save the Washington Park Summer Festival; and replanting a vandalized community garden.

Building on this spirit, and working together, we will weather this storm.   

It is an honor to serve on the Portland City Council. I am grateful for the support of my Council colleagues, the hard work of my talented staff, and the dedication of City employees who serve the public every day. Finally, I want to thank my family for their love and support.

We have much to be proud of, and much work ahead.



Click here or visit our 'News' section for the full text of my report.