421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204
PHB is named one of the journal's Newsmakers of 2016
A continuous barrage of headlines has driven home one very obvious fact about the downside of living in Portland: There is not nearly enough affordable housing for people who are working hard just to pay for the basics in life, and it has created a state of emergency in the Rose City.
The Portland Housing Bureau is working to change that by allocating increased funding for affordable housing projects with the goals of preventing displacement, creating opportunities for people seeking to rent and own homes, and acquiring land.
Kurt Creager took over as the bureau’s director in August 2015 and says he is optimistic about the changes that have occurred so far and the promising future ahead for affordable housing in Portland.
“I’ve been extremely pleased by the amount of political consensus around affordable housing, so most of the last six months we’ve been finalizing financial commitments from the decision makers,” he said.
With a $20 million addition to its budget, the Portland Housing Bureau developed and adopted the North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy to address displacement and gentrification in those communities. The bureau then issued a record-setting notice of funding available to area developers, designating $61.6 million that is expected to benefit more than a dozen affordable housing projects.
Among them is an 81-unit complex called Grant Warehouse that is planned for Northeast Portland. The $8 million project is designed by Carleton Hart Architecture, and the development team is Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives Inc. and Gerding Edlen. Colas Construction will build the project this year.
Creager noted that affordable housing projects are also slated for sites near the Oregon Convention Center, the South Park Blocks, and the Gateway and Lents neighborhoods, among others. He expects the development to generate $185 million worth of economic investment.
Creager said that while efforts to create a statewide housing program during the most recent legislative session added to the complexity of increasing affordable housing in Portland, a balanced approach to housing across the state is essential.
“Even though we have a particularly acute problem in Portland, we are sympathetic to other jurisdictions like Bend and Hood River, and we want to work in collaboration to address their housing issues as well,” he said. “I’m learning the Oregon way of doing business. We engage and involve more partners than other parts of the country.”
This Friday, the Portland Housing Bureau and the Bureau of Development Services will co-host a lunchtime presentation on programs available through the City for builders and developers.
(February 5, 2016) – A new partnership between the City of Portland and the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing (NOAH) is giving the City and its partners greater flexibility to respond to the affordable housing crisis.
The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) announced today that it has invested $1 million in the Oregon Housing Acquisition Fund (OHAF), a revolving fund administered by NOAH, a statewide nonprofit corporation that provides financing and technical assistance for affordable housing development. This fund, which is available immediately, allows for developers and PHB partners to move quickly to acquire land for affordable housing development when opportunities become available.
In an escalating market such as Portland’s, acquiring parcels for future affordable housing development is a proactive strategy to secure land before market forces drive up the purchase price. Land banking has garnered widespread community support and was identified by PHB as a key anti-displacement measure last year in its N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy.
“We needed a new tool – a flexible source of funding to allow our community affordable housing partners to act nimbly in this dynamic market to acquire new sites for affordable housing development,” stated Commissioner Dan Saltzman. The City’s new investment to enhance OHAF leverages public and private resources for land banking, making funding accessible to nonprofit and for-profit borrowers, for both rental and homeownership development projects citywide.
OHAF provides short-term financing in the form a four-year loan for the purchase of land or market-rate projects with the intention of developing or repurposing them for affordable housing. The fund includes capital from trust organizations, as well as Oregon Housing and Community Services, and private banks. The City’s additional investment allows for flexible loan terms with minimal equity, bringing the down payment required from 20% down to 5%. It also lowers the interest rate from 5% to 2%.
“Innovative public/private partnerships are key to a comprehensive approach to our city’s housing needs,” said Portland Housing Bureau Director Kurt Creager. “This is a smart investment that allows us as a community to respond where there is need and opportunity now — and it supports a strategy that is going to continue to be effective in a down market as well.”
On Wednesday, the community-based Oversight Committee will give its first report on the City’s North/Northeast Portland anti-displacement efforts
Last January, the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) launched the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy, a housing plan to begin to address the legacy of involuntary displacement in North and Northeast Portland. To ensure the highest level of accountability to the community, an Oversight Committee of community members was formed and charged by Portland City Council with the role of overseeing the implementation of the Strategy, and reporting to City Council annually on the success of PHB and its contractors in accomplishing the plan's established goals. Wednesday’s presentation will be the first report from the Committee on those efforts.
“I am very hopeful that this effort is going to make real, lasting and positive difference in peoples’ lives,” says Committee Chair Bishop Steven Holt. “We know all too well how many times people who are less represented have been relocated with little concern for them and the impact that it has on community. Portland’s history speaks to this. However, we are now involved in something that is turning this around. The Oversight Committee is committed to units on the ground, families in those units, and a healthy community to support it.”
In the last year, PHB has provided home retention support to 77 N/NE Portland households, developed a preference policy to prioritize displaced households for programming, and began pre-development on 81 affordable new apartments through the Strategy, which was developed with the input of more than 450 community members, as well as dozens of area faith leaders and community leaders.
“Taking on displacement in North and Northeast Portland has called on us as a city to recognize a painful history, where community members didn’t have a voice in decisions that would impact them for generations,” said Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who, with Mayor Charlie Hales, dedicated the $20 million in 2014 in response to a call from community leaders for investments to prevent further displacement. “I am grateful to Bishop Holt and the members of this committee for their service, and for this opportunity to look back with them on where we’ve been able to make an impact in the last year, and where we have more work to do.”
Click here for a list of Committee members and to read the full report.
A brown bag on January 26 will cover recent changes to the city's Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption Program
Click here to register today!