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June 2018
By the time you read this I’ll be back. 
 
Today, I’m packing for my overseas trip to Jerusalem. My wife and I will be gone 2 weeks and of course I am worried that my absence will come at a crucial time. The primary elections. Collecting late rent. Sending 72 hour notices. Probably be a broken pipe somewhere in the middle of the night. Getting out our payroll. The NBA playoffs. You name it and I know I will be sorely missed and needed. Sure, I could look at my email and texts… but seriously, from the steps at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? 
 
The point of this trip is for Belinda and I to reaffirm to each other our understanding that life is about things much bigger than the day to day worries that never seem to leave us. When did that day arrive when we got up and finally worried more about changing the oil in our cars than changing the world with our hearts? 
 
It seems like this year has sped by. It’s already half gone and nothing I have done has helped the cause. Our local and statewide politicians have not come to their senses over housing policies. Commissions and board meetings, lobbying and writing letters, shaking your hands and shaking my head and shaking the trees for more donations has produced a lot of attention, but little traction yet. 
 
I would love to say that our combined voices could make a difference to find truly equitable solutions to housing issues that have been caused by so many factors over such a long time. Homelessness is a symptom of everything from an opioid crisis and a lack of mental health care to a broken justice system that does nothing to help repeat offenders reform, or keep them off the streets. Ironically rent increases are a symptom of a healthy economy while housing shortages are a result of poor planning policies. And very little data (if any) actually supports the notion that a 10% rent increase forces people onto the streets. 
 
The once decent messaging from well intended tenant advocacy groups seeking to improve tenant/landlord law has devolved into a cacophony of socialist group soundbites. Organizations like Portland Tenants United and others now seem to advocate for the redistribution of wealth. They say simply that Tenants are Victims and Landlords are Predators. They say that government must pass laws that require people who collect rent and pay mortgages and property taxes must pay people who rent and need to move thousands of dollars or face retribution (even if that payment needs to come from their Visa cards). This is not an argument against government assistance. This is a question of why individual taxpayers are being forced to pay for the cure to social problems that were created by local governments who made (and make) failed long term policy decisions, that have instigated those very problems in the first place? 
 
It’s got me worked up and I know that I am not alone. It’s sort of disheartening to learn that we property owners are not a protected class. For all of you that have written letters, showed up to testify and signed checks, thank you. For those of you who have volunteered at Rental Housing Alliance Oregon, a huge thank you. And you can see by my mood, that it may not seem like a lot is happening all at once. But sometimes I wonder what options I’d have if I didn’t show up… 
 
As I type this I am listening to music - an oldies song station called “Classic Vinyl”. (It sums me up, right?) Anyway, on comes this song: “Summertime Blues” (The Who’s version). Great timing. 
 
“I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fine vacation
I’m gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well, I called my congressman and he said ‘whoa!’
‘I’d like to help you son but you’re too young to vote’
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues” 
 
Ron Garcia, RHA Oregon President