[Posted November 1, 2020]
Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. or SWNI, is the organization that provides support services to 17 southwest neighborhood associations including Hillsdale’s. It has been the focus of challenges over the past few months that have severely impacted its funding.
In addition to supporting the neighborhood associations, SWNI publishes the SWNI News and provides the framework for several committees that facilitate public input and communication with city government around land use, transportation, schools, and other livability issues for southwest Portlanders.
The Hillsdale Neighborhood Association (HNA) relies on SWNI for notification about land use permits and non-profit status as well as technical assistance to conduct virtual monthly meetings. SWNI maintains the HNA website, including posting recordings of the virtual meetings. Recordings have been posted for meetings held between April and September, usually the day after the meeting, but October’s meeting has yet to be posted, preventing community members from accessing that meeting.
As reported by OPB here, a contested records request led to the suspension of SWNI’s funding by the Portland City Council. The records have been submitted but SWNI is now soliciting donations from the community at their website to keep their operations going while the documents are being audited. SWNI staff did not respond to emails, but HNA President Tatiana Lifshitz says SWNI could run out of money in December despite having reduced their staff hours and other expenditures.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, in her role overseeing the city’s Office of Civic Engagement, last year proposed stripping neighborhood associations of their official status, a proposal that was later withdrawn in the face of significant outcry from many Portland residents and neighborhood associations. Commissioner Eudaly was also the author of the amendment approved by the City Council to withhold funding.