Ted Talks: 2021 State of the City

(Illustration of Mayor Ted Wheeler) Illustration Credit - Savannah Quarum
By Dory Nafshun

March 15, 2021

Mayor Wheeler hosted the annual “State of the City” on March 12, 2021, an update detailing his upcoming plans for reshaping and rebranding Portland in the aftermath of the pandemic and civil rights protests that 2020 brought. It also detailed where he’s looking to focus his leadership, post re-election, in 2021 and beyond.

Wheeler went on to list his original campaign promises from his 2016 Mayoral run and gave updates on how his 2016 and 2020 legislation have translated into tangible development for the city of Portland.

Despite labeling gun violence and “anarchist destruction” as inner Portland’s two biggest problems stunting livability, capital growth, and Downtown Portland’s development, Wheeler expressed his optimism in Portland’s “rebound” from public safety issues into a safer 2021. He believes Portland “has what it takes to move into a much brighter future.”

Mayor Wheeler’s plans for Portland primarily fall under three categories of improvements that he considers most important for Portland’s development once the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wane and development and industry in Portland begin to rise: homelessness, safety, and livability. Wheeler deems these categories of improvement the key to bettering Portland as a whole.

Regarding the houselessness crisis, Wheeler reaffirmed that his 2016 and 2020 platforms regarding houselessess still reflect his 2021 values: promoting a Housing-for-All platform, legislating bonds directly funding homeless alleviation, and drafting funding for villages and motel-based homeless shelters. Wheeler touted the increasing development of villages for public and affordable housing as his preferred method of beginning to create “safe alternatives to living on the streets of Portland.”

According to Wheeler, while houselessness in the city of Portland is a crisis, thousands have been helped and housed since the beginning of the Wheeler administration. His overarching goal is to “get people off the streets and housed as safely and humanely as possible.”

To recover from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Wheeler acknowledged the potential viral transmissions of COVID-19 through Portland’s houseless communities, and as of March 11, 2021, promoted on his official Mayoral Twitter account (@tedwheeler) Oregon Health and Science University’s (@OHSUNews) update that houseless individuals qualify for the COVID-19 vaccination process beginning March 29, 2021 in the state of Oregon.

As of March 9, 2021, Wheeler additionally sponsored and supported SB-282-1, a bill helping Oregonians behind on rent payments due to the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in the Oregon State Senate. This support would help take a preventative measure to lower evictions and help “keep people in their homes” (@oregonfoodbank).

Mayor Wheeler’s March actions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations for houseless Portland residents, rent support, and eviction prevention all show his commitment to his guarantees to assist houseless individuals and to treat houselessness in Portland with gravity and compassion.

[“State of the City”. City Club of Portland, Youtube. Mar 12, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLEuNjZxHxE&ab_channel=CapitalCommunityMedia]

[Retweeted by Mayor Ted Wheeler, @tedwheeler, Twitter:
“Oregon Food Bank”. @oregonfoodbank, Twitter. Mar 09, 2021. https://twitter.com/oregonfoodbank/status/1369321705936617472]

[“OHSU News”. @OSHUNews, Twitter. Mar 11, 2021. https://twitter.com/OHSUNews/status/1370026756766273546]