Welcoming New NP Team Members

Jenny headshot copy

Jenny Lee, NP’s new Housing Policy Director

Neighborhood Partnerships has two new team members!

Jenna Haley is a graduate student at PSU’s School of Social Work. She will be interning at NP and providing support to the Housing Alliance from late September through June 2016.

Neighborhood Partnerships have also hired a new Housing Policy Director, who will be working with all of us over the next several years to help us manage the opportunities and challenges that the current housing crisis presents us. Jenny Lee will start on October 23rd.

We asked Jenny a couple questions so that you could get to know her.

For starters, tell me a little about yourself

I’m returning to Oregon after being away for a number of years and am so excited to come back. I left to attend law school and was determined to do some kind of social justice work after I graduated. The job I found was all the way in Hawai‘i, so I packed two suitcases and moved out there not knowing anyone. I ended up not practicing law and became involved in advocacy on a number of issues affecting people with low incomes, including housing. Personally, I’m pretty outgoing and very ready to pick up some new hobbies and take advantage of Oregon’s cultural opportunities.

What area of expertise and interest do you have?

I’ve always been open to doing whatever I could to advance social justice, and as a result I’ve worked on a wide range of issues. I’ve been fortunate to serve and learn from many different clients and communities, including children, domestic violence survivors, public housing tenants, and people with autism. In college, I focused on theoretical and philosophical questions and still love the big questions, but since then, I’ve become much more engaged in public affairs. My recent work has focused primarily on economic justice, housing, and homelessness, and I feel my strongest skills include legislative advocacy, writing advocacy materials, and working with the media. (Although I may have been best known in Hawai‘i for my colorful infographics.)

What does opportunity mean to you?

To me, genuine opportunity means that people have access to the resources they need for a secure, healthy, and fulfilling life, all within a social climate that treats everyone with fairness and dignity. Each individual’s and family’s circumstances vary so much that real opportunity is not simply formal access to opportunities or equal resources, but access to what it takes to attain a decent quality of life that allows people to find meaning in their lives.

What difference can quality, affordable homes make for individuals and communities?

Decent and affordable housing makes all the difference—it truly is the foundation for other outcomes such as health, educational achievement, employment, and the family. Affordability is critical: housing costs are generally an intractable expense, and losing your home is devastating. Homelessness has been a significant part of my work, and the theme it has evoked for me is that housing is stabilizing. It strengthens communities by letting us live in neighborhoods that are diverse in every sense, and also strengthens our economy by ensuring workers can live near their jobs and people have enough to afford other necessities.

What’s your favorite quote?

“[O]nce you’ve seen certain things, you can’t un-see them, and seeing nothing is as political an act as seeing something.”– Arundhati Roy

Choose one author, living or dead, that you’d like to have dinner with

Socrates, although he wasn’t really an author, so I guess Plato would need to be there to write everything down. Being questioned and led to surprising philosophical conclusions sounds like an excellent way to spend dinner, and some of Socrates’ dialogues took place over food.

What are you looking forward to most about this position?

I’m very excited to work with the Housing Alliance members because they’re such a diverse group of organizations united by an understanding that housing is critical. I learn best through collaborating with others, so coordinating a coalition is the perfect opportunity for me. I’m eager to bring my dedication to Oregon and address the housing issues facing the state.