If there’s anything we’ve witnessed in the last two years, it’s that the systems and structures that we have in place often place families and individuals in situations with difficult financial challenges. We’ve also witnessed the ways in which the pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on these same systems, which many of us rely on for our paychecks, our health care, and the roofs over our heads, among other basic necessities.
Neighborhood Partnerships has been proud to play a part in the work to ensure that families continue to have safe, stable, and affordable homes before, during, and after the pandemic. Through the work of the Oregon Housing Alliance, we fought to ensure that people were not evicted in the midst of a public health crisis, that they’ve had additional time to get back on their feet, as well as resources to help pay their rent or mortgages in moments of great need, because without a safe, stable and affordable place to call home, our community is less safe, less healthy, and less prosperous.
But when our systems fail, where else does financial strain come from? Other than rent or mortgage payments, Oregonians across the state interact with countless businesses, industries, and government entities in order to get our groceries, financial services, insurance, phone plans, and home utilities. The list of basic needs goes on.
Many of the same families find that, after the bills are paid, there is little to no income left, forcing many to make difficult choices about which bills to pay or not pay while they wait for their next paycheck.
Especially in light of the pandemic and looming inflation that is raising the cost of living, there is a great need for continued discussion about how Oregonians can return to living in our community in a way that is affordable and sustainable. In awareness that these discussions must also be had with our lawmakers, and that these conversations should be based in lived experiences of Oregonians, NP, in partnership with OSPIRG and many direct services providers from around the state, have convened a table concerning this intersection of affordability and consumer protection, called the Stop the Debt Trap Alliance.
In recent years, the Stop the Debt Trap Alliance membership has come together to fight for Oregonians, to identify unfair financial pressure points for families, and advocate for legislation to address those areas. In 2021, SDTA successfully advocated for legislation to increase transparency in student loan servicing, to boost incomes through the earned income tax credit, and to build structures towards the implementation of a public health care option in the State of Oregon. The Alliance continues to fight against unfair practices in the pharmaceutical and auto insurance industries that make their products unaffordable, especially for communities of color.
NP is proud to continue this work with the many direct service providers and public interest groups currently participating in ensuring affordable communities across Oregon. If your organization is equally concerned about the lack of affordability, or unfair industry practices the impact it has on your clients and communities, please consider joining us. If you have any questions you are also free to contact Loren Naldoza at firstname.lastname@example.org.