In Memoriam: Justin Buri

Andrew Riley
Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:03am

1000 Friends of Oregon mourns the loss of Justin Buri, who passed away on November 1st, 2016. Justin was well-known in our community as a champion of housing justice: he served as a board member of Housing Land Advocates, a core member of the statewide Inclusionary Zoning Coalition, and as former Executive Director of the Community Alliance of Tenants. We hold Justin's wife, Julieth, in our thoughts, as well as the family, friends, and community now grieving his loss.

Justin left an indelible mark on our community and our collective work for housing justice, and he was at the center of virtually every victory for housing at a state and local level. Justin helped lead coalitions to repeal the statewide preemption on inclusionary zoning, to better protect renters who hold Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and was integral to Portland's declaration of a Renter State of Emergency, to name just a few. His work has helped pave the way for Portland’s first inclusionary housing policy, as well as the commanding victory for a local bond for affordable housing.

His work went beyond policy wins, however: Justin was committed to creating the space and tools for vulnerable communities to raise their own voices for social change. To borrow an organizing term, he consciously stepped back as often as he stepped up. Over his years at CAT, he helped train hundreds - if not thousands – of community members and leaders, developing them into powerful advocates for justice.

"The best testament I can think of to Justin's commitment to leadership-development is a rally we hosted on the Capitol steps in 2013," said Andrew Riley, 1000 Friends of Oregon's Community Engagement Coordinator. "He worked for weeks to organize refugees from different communities to lobby for an end to discrimination against people with Housing Choice Vouchers. 75 people rallied, chanted, and listened to speeches from community leaders - all interpreted simultaneously to and from 6 different languages from three different regions of the world. Although a traditional, behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign probably could've gotten the bill passed, Justin believed that tenants should be at the center of the work for housing justice, a value he lived day in and day out."

Justin Buri gave his mind, body, and soul to make Oregon a better place to live for the most-vulnerable communities. He worked toward policy victories, but more importantly, did everything he could to build tenants’ power to organize for their own wins. As we mourn his passing, 1000 Friends of Oregon is committed to carrying on Justin's legacy as we fight to ensure that every member of our community has a safe, accessible, and affordable place to live. And we ask every activist and advocate to work as Justin did: loudly, unapologetically, and with more than just a touch of goofiness and good humor.

Rest in power, Justin.

Photo courtesy of The Community Alliance of Tenants