Urban League of Portland's Powerful Advocacy and Civic Engagement

The Urban League of Portland provided testimony on two major Portland proposals: Ted Wheeler’s proposed ban on mass outdoor camps and the creation of mass encampments to forcibly placed unhoused folks, and banning the sale of flavored tobacco products in Multnomah County.  


Working with Blanchat House, Street Roots, and several other organizations, the Urban League hosted a townhall for unhoused constituents with Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Dan Ryan. At this townhall, folks experiencing homelessness were able to share their testimonies regarding the ban on camping.  


Unfortunately, despite our tireless efforts to tell the city not to ban camping and build mass outdoor camps, the resolutions to ban camping and build mass outdoor camps in Portland were approved. However, the Urban League will continue to oppose this plan and look for additional opportunities to oppose the criminalization of homelessness through a camping ban and ensure the perspectives of communities with lived experience are centered when developing more equitable and compassionate solutions, such as rent assistance and eviction prevention. 


Click here to read the testimony sent from the Urban League.  

Please watch our first and second round of verbal testimony in opposition to the plan.  


Read about our Director of Advocacy & Public Policy Jennifer Parrish Taylor’s testimony in the news:  


We also spoke in support of ending the sale of flavored tobacco products in Multnomah County. Flavored tobacco products target youth with their predatory marketing and appeal. Furthermore, Big Tobacco continues to target African American communities with its dangerous and deadly flavored products. A 2017 nationwide study found that stores in neighborhoods with the highest proportion of African Americans have more than double the odds of advertising price promotions for tobacco products when compared to stores in neighborhoods with the lowest proportion of African Americans.  


Click here to watch the Urban League’s testimony.   

Click here to learn more about the Flavors Hook Oregon Kids Campaign.  


Beyond our recent testimony, we enjoyed three victories on ballot measures we supported during the general election. 


  • Measure 26-228 (Charter Reform) 

  • This measure creates three major changes to the City of Portland’s Charter to strengthen our democracy and help ensure our system of government is representative of Portland.      

  • Creating a City Administrator position to manage bureaus      

  • Increasing the number of City Council members to 3 per district with 4 districts total (12 city councilors vs the current 4)     

  • Implement Ranked Choice Voting (allows you to rank candidates in order of preference 

  • Measure 111 (Affordable Healthcare) 

  • This measure will ratify an amendment to the Oregon Constitution establishing a state obligation to ensure every Oregon resident has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate, and affordable healthcare.  

  • Measure 112 (Removing Slavery from Oregon’s Constitution) 

  • Currently, Oregon’s Constitution prohibits slavery or indentured servitude, except as a punishment for a crime. This measure will remove this cruel and outdated exception. 


Looking toward the 2023 legislative session, we have already started meeting with sitting and incoming legislators and partnering with other community-based organizations to develop shared priorities and agendas.  


Our current top legislative priorities include:  

  • In Defense of Humanity - This bill seeks to provide immediate and future relief for Oregon’s current public defender crisis. Immediate relief will focus on reducing caseloads and the flow of future cases for public defenders through an automatic diversion program, while future relief will focus on student loan forgiveness for both public defenders and their staff.  

  • Opportunity to Serve - This bill seeks to raise the compensation for members of the Oregon State Assembly to the median Oregon wage. Currently, Oregon State legislators receive a salary of less than $33,000. This low wage for a full-time position prevents individuals who are not independently wealthy or maintaining a second job from serving their community as a public official. This fact disproportionately affects low-income individuals and members of the BIPOC community.