Equity Update: Inclusion in the Legislative Process

The Oregon Legislature is often called the “citizens’ assembly.”

Why?

The common answer is that legislators often have other jobs, and reflects that the Representatives and Senators are themselves members of the public. A better reason to call the Oregon Legislature a “citizens’ assembly” is to reflect who’s actually in charge: Oregonians.

Neighborhood Partnerships has a long history of engaging lawmakers to draft, support, and pass legislation that allows all individuals and families to have access to economic opportunities, strong consumer protections against predatory practices, and a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.

We can’t do this work alone. In order to make sure that we advocate for legislative proposals that best protect Oregonians, we seek the input from those most impacted by the status quo of our historically racist, sexist, and exclusionary systems. We seek input from residents of affordable housing, savers who open individual development accounts (IDAs), and particularly members of BIPOC communities in order to send the strongest and most equitable policies to the Governor’s desk for signing.

Over the course of several years, we have made a concerted effort to include more people in the legislative process, by inviting communities that have historically been left out in meetings with legislators and public hearings. In our first two months of the 2021 legislative session, we have invited IDA savers and residents of affordable housing to tell their story before various House and Senate committees and in member meetings. In a few weeks, we will host our Housing Opportunity Week, where we have over twenty meetings with Representatives and Senators scheduled so that residents of affordable housing, the true experts on the meaning of home, can brief their lawmakers on the importance of ensuring that all Oregonians have a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home and rest their head at night.

You can read more about Housing Opportunity Week, and Residents Organizing for Change here. You can also catch a recording of IDA savers and providers testify before the Senate Housing Committee here.