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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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New and Improved Tax Exemptions Available for Affordable Housing Development

The Portland Housing Bureau is now accepting applications for updated Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption Program.

The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) is now accepting applications for tax exemptions to encourage new affordable housing development. Earlier this month, Portland City Council and the Multnomah County Commission approved changes to the City’s Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption Program (MULTE) to improve access and ease of use for private developers.

The MULTE program provides a ten-year property tax exemption on housing units in new projects that reserve 20% of those units for low- to moderate-income residents. The recent changes to the program increased the annual cap from $1 million to $3 million, eliminated the competitive process to better align with construction and financing timelines, expanded the geographic areas where it can be used, and clarified compliance requirements to create greater predictability for investors.

“It’s going to take a variety of tools and partnerships to ensure we have enough housing throughout the city that Portlanders can afford,” said Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau. “Expanding this program was an important and immediate step to improve on the tools we have to increase affordable housing production in the private market.”

The Housing Bureau expects to add roughly 200 - 300 new affordable housing units per year through increased participation in the program.

“Our community desperately needs more affordable housing,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “The important changes we’ve made to expand this program will make it easier for business owners to partner with us in achieving that goal.”

Interested applicants should contact Dory Van Bockel, MULTE Program Coordinator at the Portland Housing Bureau, at 503-823-4469 or, to schedule a pre-application meeting. 

Community Process to Further Fair Housing in Multnomah County Begins This Month

UPDATED MEETING TIMES: Members of the public are invited to participate in a series of Fair Housing discussions to shape our community's upcoming Five-Year Plan for federal spending priorities.

Fair Housing LogoThe Fair Housing Advocacy Committee invites you to be part of the discussions that will shape our community's plan to expand housing choice for everyone over the next five years. 

This planning process will help the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the City of Gresham determine the community's needs, identify strategies, and prioritize resources for housing and community economic development.

Please mark your calendars for the dates below and join us to learn more about the impact of market conditions, housing policy, and illegal housing discrimination on housing choice in our community — and make your voice part of the solution. 

Phase One: Fair Housing Assessment

Over the course of three meetings, we will review evidence of disparities in housing access in our community. Please RSVP for food, childcare, language services, or accessibility requests to Kim McCarty at (503) 823-5312.

Meeting #2 
Evidence Barriers to Housing Choice
Wednesday, September 30
4:00 − 7:00pm
16126 SE Stark St
Portland, OR 97233

Click Here for A Complete List of Meeting Dates, Times, and Locations.

Mayor Hales and Commissioner Saltzman announce Northeast Portland affordable housing project

Grant Warehouse Site SignA cornerstone project in the City of Portland’s work to address involuntary displacement in North and Northeast Portland is moving forward.

On Monday, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Dan Saltzman announced plans for two key sites along NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., including a vacant City-owned parcel that has been designated for a new affordable housing development.

Commissioner Saltzman, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB), announced that a team comprised of Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives (PCRI), Gerding Edlen, Colas Construction, and Carleton Hart Architecture, has been selected to develop the mixed-use project on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, between Cook and Ivy streets.

The selection process served to identify a project team that could best meet goals outlined in PHB’s N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy – a $20 million affordable housing initiative to combat ongoing displacement in Portland’s historically African
 Commissioner Saltzman, Mayor Hales and Lew FrederickAmerican neighborhoods.

“We needed to ensure that whoever took on this project had deep ties to this community,
understood the specific barriers to housing this community faces, that they would draw their workforce from this community, and that they would engage minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the process,” Commissioner Saltzman said. “PCRI, together with Gerding-Edlen, Carleton Hart Architecture, and Colas Construction, will bring a deep and personal knowledge of the North/Northeast Portland community to this project.”

Earlier this year, PHB dedicated $4.5 million plus the property toward the project. The specifics are still in development, but the project promises to deliver at least 45 family-sized rental units, affordable to households earning up to 60% of the area median income (currently $39,720 for a family of three). The finished project will be leased according to a new affordable housing preference policy being developed by PHB that will give priority to households with historic ties to the N/NE Portland community – those currently at risk of displacement as well as those who have been displaced in the past.

In addition, it will offer ground-floor commercial space intended to support neighborhood business.

“This is an important opportunity to provide access to affordable family rental housing in a neighborhood that has experienced displacement and gentrification in the past several decades,” said PCRI Executive Director Maxine Fitzpatrick. “PCRI was formed as, and continues to be, a solution to involuntary displacement. This project will help ensure everyone can experience the stability, safety and dignity that a home provides.”

The project team

Q & A With Incoming Housing Director Kurt Creager

Kurt Creager begins work as PHB's new director on August 10. He sat down recently with the Mercury to discuss Portland's housing challenges and opportunities.

MERCURY: Portland's got a reputation as the last affordable big city on the West Coast. Now that's slipping away. What's your take on the housing dynamic here?

KURT CREAGER: Portland is relatively affordable compared to its neighbors Seattle or San Francisco. Anyone coming from either of those two jurisdictions would be delighted with the range of options. But for Portlanders native to the area, it's quite sobering. In relative terms, it's still affordable. However, if you look at the median incomes of Portland residents, it's quite expensive. Income growth hasn't been that strong.

What do you see as our biggest challenge?

It's going to be the increased production of affordable housing. [City Commissioner] Dan Saltzman has made it clear that status quo is not an acceptable option. He'd like to see a wider spectrum of tools. The effort to recalibrate the zoning code to be more effective is very helpful, but it won't be a panacea. Policy's great, but unless you can produce, the policy is just an abstraction. 

One big knock on the Portland Housing Bureau is that it's failed to meet its housing goals. How will you ensure that doesn't happen?

We in the public sector have to under-promise and over-deliver. And as a general practice, local government needs to be held to account for its commitments. That means that you need to be transparent and monitor progress, even if it is shorter than you might have hoped, so you can take corrective action.

There are differing ideas for how housing money should best be spent. Some officials want to focus on the lowest incomes. Commissioner Saltzman has said he wants to also provide "workforce" housing.

The interest in serving a full spectrum of needs is quite important. Dan Saltzman has made it clear he wants to serve workforce needs and not just those with extremely low income. That would obviously have to be balanced with not turning our backs on the needs of the homeless or people with special needs, but serving a broader spectrum—so it's a value-added kind of effort. 

There was a recent failed attempt to kill Oregon's preemption on inclusionary zoning, which allows governments to mandate affordable units in new developments. That disappointed a lot of people. Does it make your job a lot harder?

I'm interested in the job partly because I think you're on the threshold of doing something significant, and I'd like to help you go there. [Inclusionary zoning] hasn't been a partisan issue here in Virginia. Developers understand the business proposition. They're willing to go there. I think it will likely happen [in Oregon]. There seems to be quite a lot of interest in it. I think it will be resurrected. 

You've been in Virginia less than a year, and now you're leaving. What would you say to people concerned you might give Portland the same treatment?

I'm making a long-term commitment to Portland. It's a place I have treasured over the years and I think I can make a positive difference in the community. I have no interest in using this as a stepping-stone to anything else.

Click here to read the full article.

VIDEO: Frank Sinatra tribute artist and formerly homeless veteran shares story of finding a home

John English is a singer, performer, single father, veteran -- and one of the many success stories to come out of our community's work to end veteran homelessness. Learn more about John's journey and how Portlanders are stepping forward to be part of the solution.

Dressed in classic Hollywood black and white, John English is the picture of perfection. The  tribute artist, who performs with the same style, grace and ease as ol’ blue eyes himself, has earned performances throughout the Northwest.  At lounges, music venues, weddings, special events, even Portland International Airport. The 60-year-old performer, father and veteran makes it look easy but behind his success is a hard-fought battle. After a series of unfortunate events last year, English and his son were homeless.  

Today, the family has a spacious two bedroom apartment in Southwest Portland. They were able to find temporary housing and eventually a permanent home with access to vouchers, funding and help from the many community partners dedicated to a Home for Everyone. For English, the final piece of the puzzle was a benevolent landlord and property manager willing to give him a shot at a vacant rental, despite challenges on his rental application.

“We’ve got an unprecedented amount of resources and agencies working to support this effort, including a commitment that no expenses will be left unpaid and a 24-hour response team available to landlords who are willing to work with our homeless veterans,”  explained Home for Everyone Initiative Director Marc Jolin.  “Our biggest challenge is finding units for veterans.” 

A low-vacancy, high-demand rental market is one of the challenges in an effort to house local homeless veterans by 2016. The effort coincides with a federal initiative to end veterans’ homelessness by the end of the year.  In Multnomah County, an estimated 690 homeless veterans need housing which translates to two veterans per day. So far, an estimated 300 veterans have been housed but continued support from the rental market community is necessary to fulfill the promise.     

“We’re asking landlords to not look at the past but look at where that veteran is headed and what that veteran is bringing and importantly what are the support services that veteran has," says Jolin. "Although a veteran might not look good on paper, they can actually be very successful tenant because if given the opportunity to move in they have the support and resources of the community behind them.”

Please share John English’s story and help house other homeless veterans in our community by giving them a first shot at a vacant rental.     

“Permanent housing is not just a dream it’s a reality, you can make that reality by tapping into the resources.” -- John English, Sinatra tribute artist and formerly homeless veteran.

Click here to see more photos from John's story and learn how you can help a homeless veteran in our community.