February 29, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

4J public comments: Support Peace Village, persevere in the face of hate speech

4 min read
Thomas Hiura suggests two responses to racist and religiously bigoted bullies: Refuse to be intimidated, and redouble our efforts towards civics education and the history of the Middle East.

Two persons offered public comment at the 4J school board meeting Nov. 1. Speaking first, the executive director of Square One Villages, Dan Bryant.

[00:00:09] Dan Bryant: I am Dan Bryant, Executive Director of Square One Villages, and I am speaking tonight because of an item on your agenda for a property tax exemption. This was an initiative of Square One Villages to the Oregon legislature, and fortunately approved by the city council. It’s for a new project called Peace Village in the Santa Clara neighborhood.

[00:00:31] But it’s for any project in the state that’s a limited equity co-op. This is a new style of housing in which the residents actually own and operate the housing and they own a very small share, just $5,000 worth of equity in their own housing. But as such, it is an ownership model rather than a rental model.

[00:00:53] In fact, they don’t pay rent. They actually pay a carrying charge that’s technically different from rent, but it looks the same as almost any other low-income, affordable housing rental project. But because of that ownership model, it does not qualify or did not previously for the rental housing property tax exemption.

[00:01:15] And hence, it was necessary to take this change to the legislature and then have it adopted by the taxing jurisdictions. And this particular piece of property that we developed, it’s 70 units of affordable housing, where the households will be paying between $400 to $800 in their carrying charge, studios, single bedroom, and two bedrooms.

[00:01:37] So we will be having some families. It opens in December. Without this property tax exemption, these families, their carrying charge would have to cover that property tax. It would amount to $50 to $75 additional every month. And they would have to have more income to qualify.

[00:01:54] So whereas a person with income as low as $1,000 can qualify for this very decent, affordable, high-quality housing, that additional burden would mean that that qualification would be raised to $1,150. So it could mean that without this property tax exemption, we’d have families and individuals who would not qualify for this affordable housing.

[00:02:17] And this particular property, actually, currently is a church. We purchased the property from Peace Presbyterian Church. So it already was not on the tax roll. So it would have no effect on the budget for the school district. But we’re excited to develop this new style of housing. We think it has great potential to provide more decent, very affordable housing and more importantly to give the residents in these programs ownership in their own housing, even though a very small piece.

[00:02:46] And with that benefit, of course, comes the responsibility and learning how to be a homeowner, learning how to be your own landlord and such. So look for the opening of Peace Village, probably will be Dec. 1, we’ll have a big public open event, and we hope that you will come and see this beautiful new affordable housing project in our community.

[00:03:07] Thomas Hiura: My name is Thomas Hiura. I’m here to try to speak to universal human dignity and how I feel we should respond to wanton violence and brutality anywhere that it exists. Since Oct. 7, I’ve been devastated to see violence in the region of Israel and Palestine, seeing innocent civilians killed in ways too horrible for me to want to describe here. It’s brutal, and I think it needs to end. All genocidal actions are wrong. All genocidal language is wrong. And I was really inspired to make this comment, unfortunately, by how some local public meetings have been attacked by unambiguously racist and religiously bigoted comments from cowardly cyber-attacking individuals.

[00:03:48] I think we should respond to this situation effectively in two ways. Number one, don’t be intimidated. People and bullies will intentionally use the most vile and disgusting language possible for some selfish purpose. But as public governing bodies like yourself, I encourage all local government officials to push through it and continue to focus on the work that needs to be done for the community.

[00:04:11] Even when those individuals’ hate needs to be intervened with, the ability to perform your civic duties on behalf of our community is paramount. And I say that to the board as well as the student representatives and students. Continue to push forward in the face of bullying and smearing.

[00:04:27] And number two. I think we should redouble our efforts towards civics education and education about the long and complicated and often heartbreaking history of the conflict in Palestine and Israel. I would like for all of 4J individuals to have sort of a working knowledge of the past 100 years at least but ideally much further than that, where it’s a very unique situation.

[00:04:51] I just really hope that you take my message to heart and that we can equip everybody to communicate about this in an educated and respectful way that recognizes universal human life and freedom.

[00:05:04] John Q: Two public comments at the Nov. 1 4J school board meeting. For ongoing civic education, support your local newspapers. Help nurture an oasis in the news desert by supporting KLCC, Eugene Weekly, the Chronicle, Highway 58 Herald, KEPW, and more.


Whole Community News reports on local watershed boards and commissions, neighborhoods and nonprofits, preparedness and public comment.

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