Earlier this year, my friend Nick Fish lost his long fight against cancer, and his death left a vacant seat on the Portland City Council. At the very beginning of his first term, Nick recognized the urgent need to solve homelessness during a time when very few elected officials were willing to step up. And guiding his work throughout his time as a public servant was the principle that only a home can solve someone’s homelessness.
Nick’s legacy lives on in the Joint Office of Homeless Services, the A Home for Everyone coalition, two housing bonds, and the regional supportive housing measure voters approved in May. It lives on in the 12,000 people safe in their homes every night instead of having to survive outside. It also lives on in a transformed shelter system that didn’t just grow by hundreds of beds — but puts permanent housing at its core.
I welcome Commissioner Ryan to this critical work and to the broad community of advocates, providers and leaders who’ve committed themselves to this cause. We can be raucous, loud and passionate at times, but we are welcoming to all who are ready to learn and to help our neighbors find long-term stability. I look forward to working with Dan as we all build on the legacy that Nick helped shape over the last ten years.