Bogus statistics undercut city program to help Portland renters

The Oregonian quoted Juliet Musso about the failure of Portland housing officials to rehabilitate rental properties as budgeted. The Portland Housing Bureau won nearly $500,000 from the City Council last year, bureau officials banked the money and let it sit. They haven’t repaired a single unit. The amount could have paid for nearly four dozen homeless shelter beds for a year, for example, or helped nearly 100 families avoid eviction. Any new initiative takes time to get off the ground. But the story of Portland’s rental rehab effort highlights the dangers of rushing to create a program from scratch without completing even the most basic due diligence.

Musso, the USC professor of public policy, said she finds Portland’s lack of due diligence “shocking” because necessary data were available to provide accurate estimates. “Facts should not evolve through conversations,” said Musso, a former budget analyst for the state of California. “Facts should evolve through research and credible sources.”

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