Portland’s Housing Bureau will launch a national search for its next director because Shannon Callahan is stepping down after nearly four years at the helm, Housing Commissioner Dan Ryan announced Monday.
Callahan said in a statement released by Ryan’s office that “it is time for me to move on to other opportunities and challenges.” She served as assistant director of the bureau for more than a year before Mayor Ted Wheeler appointed her to the top job.
Callahan oversaw the bureau during a period of unprecedented funding and creation of new publicly subsidized housing, thanks to voter approval of a Portland housing bond in 2016 and a Metro housing bond in 2018.
Progress on the city’s housing bond was glacial out of the gate, however, due to a provision in the state constitution that prohibited the city from spending bond funds to help construct housing it did not own and the complexities of braiding together the many public and private financing streams needed to make affordable housing complexes pencil out.
The city successfully got voters to change the state constitution, and many affordable housing complexes are on the verge of opening – nearly six years after voters approved the bond.
As of June, however, only 542 bond-funded apartments in three complexes have welcomed renters in. Later in 2022, another 545 or so apartments in five buildings are slated to open, with most finishing construction by late summer or early fall, according to a bond update presentation to the council.
Callahan also oversaw the expansion of bureau programs, including the creation of the Rental Services Office, which provides housing providers and tenants with technical assistance and guidance. She is a lawyer who specialized in consumer protection and landlord/tenant law prior to working for the city.
Margaux Weeke, Ryan’s communications strategist, did not respond Monday to a query about whether Callahan’s departure was voluntary or whether she agreed to a financial settlement with the city in order to secure her resignation.
Ryan said in a statement, “We are grateful for her service. Through partnerships with numerous community-serving organizations, Home Forward and Multnomah County, the city was able to avoid a wave of evictions seen in other parts of the nation.”
Ryan said in his statement, “I am committed to a national search to find the right person” to succeed her.
Callahan’s last day will be August 1, his office said.
Reporter Nicole Hayden contributed to this report.
— Betsy Hammond; [email protected]