I am writing to support the demand of Black Lives Matter Portland that City Manager Jon Jennings be replaced. Black Lives Matter Portland has stated that real change for people of color in Portland requires that the City Council end its policies of pro-development and gentrification, and Jennings is a leading advocate for these policies.

Jennings’ budget proposal, in April 2019, sought to put a cap on the Oxford Street Shelter and to phase out the Community Support Fund, used to provide for immigrants. That same year he did nothing to stop the eviction of tenants from Bayside Village, many of whom were immigrants and low-income. He and the council could have intervened to ensure that low-income housing was replaced at the same level by the new owner.

Jennings worked to banish the Oxford Street Shelter to the outskirts of the city. He did nothing to make it possible for the shelter to move to the 4-acre former Public Works complex in Bayside, sold off by the city to encourage development.

In 2016, Jennings sought to shut down the city’s India Street Public Health Center and transfer its services for low-income and at-risk populations to the privately run Portland Community Health Center (now Greater Portland Health), on Park Avenue, where tourists rarely go.

Jennings’ policies are designed to spur on development and clear out poor people to welcome in developers, rich people and tourists. It is time for him to go, and for the City Council to pursue policies that serve all of us.

Cristina Malcolmson

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