Rector’s Note: City Advocacy

Rector’s Note: City Advocacy

As many of you know, St. Philip has been a part of the Leaven Community Land and Housing Coalition. Mtr. Alcena Boozer, Joe Nunn, Hope Keller, Sarah Groshell and Medina Glenn have all gathered to discuss what advocating for Affordable Housing looks like, and how St. Philip might use our land to benefit our neighbors and city.

Today, I testified (via Zoom) before City Council to support the Expanding Opportunities for Affordable Housing. Written testimony can be submitted until May 20th via Portland Maps. You can find a link to watch the video Council meeting.

But today, I wanted to share with you what I said to the City Council. Here it is:

Good afternoon Mayor Wheeler and Commissioners.

I am Maria McDowell, the Rector of St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church, in the Eliot neighborhood. We would like to request that our property at 120 NE Knott Street be granted a CM3 designation. As a parish, we fully support the code and zoning changes in the Expanding Opportunities for Affordable Housing proposal to remove barriers to affordable housing development on faith community land.

I grew up in Portland, but like many, my family is dispersed across the city because we can no longer afford to live close to one another. The 25 minute drive to see one another is becoming hard on my mother’s aging body. Likewise, St. Philip is an aging parish, founded by African-Americans who were dispersed by city-sponsored development over the course of decades. Now, as they age, they want to come home, to be together again. Yet their home is no longer what it was. A parishioner, Gerry Caldwell, looks out his window at Caleroga Terrace towards the house in which he was born, and sees the Coliseum. He sees the absence of the businesses and homes that supported him as a child and young adult. My parish family wants to spend their last years together, to experience the community that supported them as children and young adults.

St. Philip the Deacon would like to create a culturally-sensitive space in the midst of Portland’s prosperity for a diversity of age, ability, income and race, the kind of diversity that is a benefit to any city.

Our request is supported by our neighborhood association, and our immediate neighbor at …, who has also requested that their residential lot be upzoned. If approved, we can explore affordable, potentially multi-generational, housing at a site with excellent access to transportation, and ensure the building capacity to provide community-oriented ground floor and outdoor spaces.

On behalf of our neighbors, and our city, please approve the proposed changes.

Thank you.
The Rev. Maria McDowell, PhD