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Portland Housing Bureau

Solving the unmet housing needs of the people of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-2375

fax: 503-823-2387

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

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Affordable Housing Set Aside Policy Set to Undergo Review

The Portland Housing Bureau and the Portland Development Commission will seek input from stakeholders and the public for possible updates to the affordable housing Set Aside policy.

The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) and the Portland Development Commission (PDC) are beginning work on a process to review and update the City’s Set Aside policy for affordable housing. Established by Portland City Council in 2006, the Set Aside remains the largest and primary source of financing for affordable housing programs in the city.

The policy is reviewed for any necessary updates and changes every five years, with the last review completed in 2010. The Housing Bureau and PDC have scheduled three public meetings to gather input from stakeholders and the public before making recommendations to City Council.


Set Aside Review Public Involvement Opportunities

All meetings will take place during the Portland Housing Advisory Commission meetings at the Portland Housing Bureau, located at 421 SW 6th Ave., Suite 500, Portland OR 97204

Public Hearing One: Overview of current policy and initial discussion on any changes needed

When: July 9, 2015 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Public Hearing Two: 
Presentation of initial draft policy and program recommendations

When: August 4, 2015 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm and again from 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Public Hearing Three: Presentation of final draft policy and program recommendations

When: September 1, 2015 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm

For more information, contact Matthew Tschabold, Policy and Equity Manager for the Portland Housing Bureau, at or by phone at 503-823-3607. 

Members of the media may direct inquiries to Martha Calhoon, Public Information Officer, at or 503-823-1132.

“It is time to... prioritize affordable housing”

The City releases new incentive zoning recommendations.

Photo of High-rise constructionThe Portland Housing Bureau and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability have released a study that will inform recommendations for a possible new bonus system to incentivize private affordable housing construction in the Central City. 

In the next 20 years, Portland’s Central City is projected to gain 30,000 new households. To ensure that the Central City maintains a mix of income levels while accommodating rapid growth, Commissioner Dan Saltzman asked the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to analyze and then recommend how bonus programs in the Central City’s zoning code could be updated to support affordable housing development. The initial recommendations and report were released today. 

“It is time to streamline our incentive bonus system to prioritize affordable housing,” said Commissioner Saltzman. “This an important tool to encourage the private market to be part of the solution to our affordable housing crisis.”   

Key recommendations include redesigning the Central City bonus system to prioritize affordable housing, retaining the current 3:1 cap on bonus FAR that can be used on a single site, and allowing developments to earn this bonus by:

  • Constructing affordable housing on-site as part of a project affordable to households at 80 percent of the median family income (MFI), and that units be kept affordable for 60 years.
  • Paying into a public benefit fund for the production and preservation of affordable housing, which would be used to create affordable housing at  income levels below 60 percent MFI.

Based on average levels of development activity in the Central City, the proposed affordable housing bonus could result in as many as an additional 60 affordable units (at 80-percent median family income per year). Developers would also have the option of paying a fee in lieu of building the affordable units themselves. If all bonuses were earned through the in-lieu-payment option, $120-200 million could be generated for affordable housing development or rehabilitation over 20 years.

An incentive bonus system allows additional square feet of development for a project in exchange for a public benefit, such as affordable housing. A current bonus system already exist in Portland’s zoning codes and has 18 different bonus options. The recommendations would prioritize a bonus for affordable housing. 

The report will be introduced to City Council during a work session tomorrow at 9:30am, and will be the subject of a public hearing on July 9. Following the July 9 hearing, Commissioners will vote on a resolution to accept the study and provide additional guidance to staff on the development of a new Central City bonus tool.

Download the full report here.

Download a summary here.

N/NE Community Oversight Committee to Hold First Meeting

From the beginning of the initiative to address displacement in North/Northeast Portland, the Portland Housing Bureau has recognized that any successful effort would first need to acknowledge the history of broken promises between public agencies and the communities of N/NE Portland. That is why the housing plan for N/NE presented to Portland City Council earlier this year included an extra measure of accountability: a community-based body to monitor and oversee implementation of the plan over the next five years. 

This body of community representatives, called the Community Oversight Committee, begins meeting this month. Beginning next week, PHB and partners funded through the N/NE initiative will report to the committee on our progress in N/NE at quarterly meetings. The committee will report back to City Council annually, evaluating our performance from the community's perspective.

At the first full meeting on Tuesday, the Committee will hear updates on:

  • Grant Warehouse  — affordable housing planned for NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, between Cook and Ivy.
  • N/NE home repair and homeownership programs.
  • The Preference Policy — how the City is moving forward with a policy to help displaced households (and their descendants) return to N/NE.
  • Homeless services for African Americans.

These meetings are open to the public. Meeting schedules and agendas will be posted here.

City Council Approves New Northeast Portland Housing

The newly approved Miracles Club will provide affordable housing combined with services for adults who wish to live in an alcohol and drug-free building.

Portland City Council voted this week to dedicate $7.1 million toward the development of Miracles Central, a collaboration between the Portland Housing Bureau, Central City Concern, and the Miracles Club, to provide affordable housing combined with services for adults who wish to live in an alcohol and drug-free building.

Located at NE 2nd Avenue and NE Wasco Street, the project will follow the programming model of The Miracles Club Apartments, a similar building on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, specializing in culturally competent recovery support for the African American community. The partnership with Central City Concern will help Miracles Club expand to meet the continuing demand for services.

“Even as the economy is rebounding, we know there are deep, persistent disparities in housing access and economic opportunity,” said Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “Miracles Central is important and timely because it increases affordable housing and it also fills a need for the kinds of culturally specific services and programs that can help us begin to address some of these disparities.”

In addition to capital funding, the Portland Housing Bureau is contributing the land toward the project. When complete, it is expected to provide 47 units of affordable housing, including 28 apartments affordable to lower-income households earning up to 50% of the area median income ($25,750 for an individual). Central City Concern and Miracles Club will use the building’s ground floor for program-related services, including meetings and counseling. On-site staff will help tenants with life-skills, employment readiness, and eviction prevention, and work closely with tenants to develop action plans that may include steps like workforce development or education. 

2015 Homeless Count Shows Good News, Bad News

Photo of homeless person

Despite rising housing costs and one of the country’s lowest vacancy rates, overall homelessness in Multnomah County has not increased since 2013, according to a report released today by the City of Portland, Multnomah County, the City of Gresham, and Home Forward.

The report identified 1,887 people who are unsheltered (down from 1,895 in 2013), as well as 872 sleeping in an emergency shelter, and 1,042 in transitional housing. Of the unsheltered population, half reported that they had been homeless for a year or less, and most frequently cited unemployment and inability to afford rent as the causes.

The 2015 Point-in-Time Count Report of Homelessness in Portland/Gresham/Multnomah County shows reductions in chronic homelessness and among unsheltered veterans, but troubling increases among African Americans and families with children. The largest increase (48%) was among unsheltered African Americans (from 267 to 396 since 2013)

“This is a call to action,” said Portland Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “Our community does a tremendous amount of work to move 3,000 people out of homelessness each year, but this also shows us that we need to do more. Impacting these numbers calls for a new approach.” To that end, he says the Portland Housing Bureau is prepared to focus resources toward improving outcomes for African Americans in particular. 

The number of unsheltered families with children grew from 123 people in 2013 to 152 – a 24% increase. Seventy-two more unsheltered women were also counted this year (a 15% increase) – from 494 to 566. Twenty-nine percent of those were women with children.

“While the economy continues to make a comeback, not everyone is enjoying that recovery. There are still far too many veterans and families with children sleeping in unsafe and unstable conditions. This report validates the significant investment my budget makes to put more families and veterans back into housing,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

The findings also reaffirm the strategic plans of A Home for Everyone – a community-wide collaborative made up of leaders from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the City of Gresham, and Home Forward, as well as a diverse array of stakeholders. Earlier this year, A Home for Everyone put forth a set of action plans to prioritize key investments in vulnerable populations (including families with children, veterans, women, and unaccompanied youth) with a focus on increasing housing placements, improving housing retention, and creating new affordable housing units. 

The report provides A Home for Everyone with some actionable next steps. “With this data, the Executive Committee and Board of A Home for Everyone can determine where it is most urgent to make additional investments and to better collaborate with other systems, like health care and the schools,” said Marc Jolin, A Home for Everyone’s Director. “When we see growing levels of need, like we do for families with children and communities of color, we know where we need to focus our attention.”  

The point-in-time count of homelessness includes both a county-wide street count and shelter count. The street count, led by Portland Housing Bureau staff, captures information on people who are sleeping outside, in a vehicle, a tent, etc. The shelter count, led by Multnomah County staff, tallies people sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing specifically set aside for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Shelter numbers are reported to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development annually, but the full count (including the street count) takes place every other year. The last report was in 2013.

“The cities and the county are stepping up, and that’s great, but this is an all-hands-on-deck issue,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “We need the faith community doing more, and for people to volunteer more. We need landlords taking Section 8 vouchers and veterans’ vouchers. If only the government responds, it won’t be enough. Each of us has to play a role in this.”

Click here to download the full 2015 report