Since joining Salem City Council in late 2019, I've prioritized funding for affordable housing, economic development, and addressing homelessness. I've directed funding to uplift Salem's most vulnerable residents, like low-income seniors, domestic violence survivors, persons struggling with mental illness, and more. I've worked with business leaders to support locally-owned businesses to see through the pandemic.
When I started on Council, I was told the City would never support creating managed shelter sites. Now, we have three managed shelter sites, where persons experiencing homelessness have access to services, job training, and security.
I voted to (1) build permanent supportive housing for hundreds of persons experiencing homelessness; (2) create low-cost managed shelter sites with wraparound services; (3) create housing for low-income seniors, families, military veterans, persons with disabilities, and persons with serious mental illness; (4) direct grant funds to non-profit partners dedicated to ending homelessness; and (5) fund a Navigation Center for persons experiencing homelessness.
INVESTING IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING
I approved private-public partnerships to increase affordable housing. I increased our Salem Housing Authority staff, so that staff can reach more people and apply for more affordable housing grant funds.
I voted to approve affordable housing projects in West Salem, South Salem, Southeast Salem, downtown Salem, and more. I voted to fund Redwoods and Sequoia Crossings, which provide housing to persons with severe mental illness and persons struggling with homelessness.
I voted to support funding for the ARCHES Inn, which opened its doors to house survivors of the Santiam Canyon wildfire.
I voted to create a $10 million affordable housing opportunity fund for private and public developers.
I voted to revise the Multiple Unit Housing Tax Incentive Program Standards and Guidelines to incentivize more affordable housing.
I voted to approve over 400 units of affordable housing in South Salem (27th Avenue and Battlecreek neighborhoods).
I voted to add 10 additional staff positions to Salem Housing Authority in order to increase case management services and seek out more federal and state resources.
I voted to approve a private-public partnership authorizing 184 units of low-income apartments in South Salem.
I approved sending $350,000 in federal funds for construction and case management services at the Center for Hope & Safety to shelter domestic violence survivors
SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
I voted to approve grant funds for folks who want to open or enhance a downtown business. I voted to support grant funds towards the construction of a new downtown hotel, new housing where the vacant Nordstrom once stood, new housing and small businesses in the vacant Whitlock Sewing building, and a downtown outdoor dining program to help restaurants survive the pandemic. I voted to increase security staffing for downtown parking structures. I voted to approve a rapid response sanitation team in order to timely respond to complaints of garbage from illegal camping. I voted to direct state grant funds towards improvements in our airport's infrastructure. I voted to support commercial air service and served on the advisory committee to ensure that commercial air service "took off". I voted to provide $15,000 towards Salem Main Street Association Holiday Parade on Small Business Saturday, to support our local business owners.
HELPING LOW-INCOME SENIORS
I voted to sell unused city land to the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley so they can build tiny homes for low-income seniors. I volunteered for Meals on Wheels and delivered meals to seniors during the pandemic, when many seniors were isolated at home. I also recruited volunteers to support seniors during the pandemic.
ENGAGING AT-RISK YOUTH
I voted to approve a youth shelter on Turner Road. I raised awareness about youth homelessness after touring Salem's overnight youth shelter and day center. I volunteered for Salem Reads. I volunteered at Punx in the Park, a resource fair for at-risk youth. I voted to create free, three-hour parking at our Main Library branch so that families can enjoy our library without cost barriers.
TAKING ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
I voted to approve the City's first-ever Climate Action Plan. I served on the Climate Action Task Force. I support the Salem Bike Vision and voted to invest in bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure around the city. I voted to approve accepting grant funding from Portland General Electric to build electric vehicle charging stations for city vehicles and to build our state's first-ever solar microgrid. I voted to support grant applications to improve Pringle Creek and plant trees across the city. I worked with the American Association of University Women Salem Chapter to put together a tree-planting project at Yoshikai Elementary School.
INVESTING IN OUR PARKS AND CITY INFRASTRUCTURE
I voted to support the City's $300 million infrastructure bond, which will invest in sidewalk, street, parks, libraries, firefighting equipment, and more. The voters passed the bond and projects are currently underway.
I voted for a performance audit of the Salem Police Department. I voted to increase funding for the Salem Police Department Behavioral Health Unit, which handles high-acuity 911 calls involving persons struggling with mental illness.
I voted to add funding for two new fire stations, and new fire trucks to replace the aging fleet of fire trucks, to the city's infrastructure bond measure. The voters passed the bond measure by a wide margin in November 2022.
SUPPORTING SANTIAM CANYON WILDFIRE SURVIVORS
I brought a team of volunteers and supplies to Gates, Oregon to assist with the wildfire relief efforts. I voted to direct city funds towards the ARCHES Inn, which houses Santiam Canyon wildfire survivors.
COLLABORATING WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS
As a member of the Family YMCA of Marion & Polk Counties Board of Directors since 2019, I helped raise funds for our new flagship Y facility and a housing project for low-income military veterans. The new YMCA is now open and offers free members to children in foster care, among other vulnerable populations. The YMCA veterans housing project will open in 2024. I have also supported directing grant funding to Seeds of Faith Ministries, Church at the Park, the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, the Center for Hope and Safety, St. Francis Shelter, and the Marion-Polk Food Share.
Vanessa has volunteered at 3 local homeless shelters, including Church at the Park.
Vanessa lead therapy animal Caesar the No Drama Llama around the homeless shelter at the Oregon Fairgrounds Pavilion.
Vanessa toured the new Union Gospel Mission with Dan Clem.
Vanessa brought treats and a therapy dog to greet Salem Housing Authority staff.
Vanessa participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for Redwoods Crossing, a housing project for persons experiencing severe mental illness and homelessness.
Vanessa helped bring the Salem Capitals, a professional basketball team, to Salem.
Vanessa delivered Meals on Wheels during the pandemic.
Vanessa read to local children through the Salem Reads program.
Vanessa taught a Willamette University class on the City's Climate Action Plan.
Vanessa planted native trees and shrubs in a Salem park.
Vanessa supported the Salem Firefighter''s Holiday Charity Drive.
Vanessa recruited volunteers to bring supplies to wildfire survivors.
Vanessa worked with Senator Peter Courtney and the YMCA to build affordable housing for homeless veterans.