As co-chairs of Youth & Family Outreach’s Building a Brighter Future child care and affordable-housing expansion project, we agree with Jim Clair’s recent op-ed, “What makes high-quality child care, and why is it so important right now?” (April 1).

In a February 2020 Portland Chamber of Commerce and United Way survey, 57 percent of employers reported a lack of child care access impacted their ability to recruit and hire employees, and 70 percent of employees struggle to find affordable child care, and that was before the pandemic. At Youth & Family Outreach alone there is a waitlist of more than 100 working families. Portland Housing Authority’s waitlist is astronomical as well.

Portland’s lack of affordable housing exacerbates the financial strain on working families. Youth & Family Outreach has partnered with PHA to convert 337 Cumberland Ave. and the current chapel space into a state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable child care center with 60 residential units above; 48 of these will be affordable.

The project will also double Youth & Family Outreach’s number of child care slots for working families of all income levels. This project is positioned to serve as a powerful demonstration project for family stability within a neighborhood-based education and housing hub.

Portland is positioned to build over 1,600 new market-rate housing units and bring in over 2,000 employees between Wex, Covetrus and SunLife, along with 200 Roux Institute graduate students. We need, as a business and philanthropic community, to support the expansion of quality child care now more than ever. We hope you will join us.

Michael Bourque
CEO, MEMIC
Nancy Brain
Frances Hollis Brain Foundation
Portland

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