May 11, 2010
The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) works to make sure that every Portlander has a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. Because market-rate rental properties are financially out of reach for many low-income Portlanders, apartment buildings offering below-market-rate, "affordable" units are a vital tool for PHB.
Many of these affordable apartment buildings are able to offer lower rental rates because they receive federal subsidies. Writes Justin Carinci in the Daily Journal of Commerce, "The early 1980s were a productive period for building affordable housing projects. Contracts with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development provided Section 8 rent vouchers for 30 years on each project." When these contracts expire, many affordable buildings are converted to market-rate units. Protecting and preserving these affordable buildings is one of Nick's top priorities as Commissioner-in-Charge of PHB.
PHB has an ambitious plan to preserve affordable housing. Known as the "11 by 13" campaign, it's designed to preserve 11 properties with expiring federal rent subsidy contracts between now and 2013. PHB has developed a number of funding tools, including tax increment financing and a Section 108 loan pool, to support this effort, and is also working with Senators Merkley and Wyden for a change in law which will free up additional resources at the federal level.
With a number of successes on the books, PHB is on its way to achieving this goal. Late last year, PHB worked with REACH CDC to successfully preserve Walnut Park, a 38-unit property at NE 6th and MLK which will remain affordable for the next 20 years.
Also last year, reports Justin Carinci in the Daily Journal of Commerce, Northwest Housing Alternatives (NHA) bought Upshur House, which has provided 30 affordable units to Northwest Portland for the last 30 years. By renewing the federal contract which provides rent vouchers to keep Upshur House units affordable, NHA has ensured that this building will remain affordable for the next 20 years.
PHB's preservation efforts rely on partnerships with a number of outstanding local non-profits, including Proud Ground, the REACH Community Development Corporation, Northwest Housing Alternatives, and Guardian Real Estate Services.
Check out PHB's website for more on this and other programs to make sure all Portlanders have a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.