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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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A message from Kurt Creager

It has been a great honor to serve as the Director of the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB).... When I came to Portland in 2015, the PHB was doing compelling finance and development work primarily within the Urban Renewal Areas which comprise less than 15% of the City. In addition, PHB was the conduit for federal community development and emergency shelter programs, countywide. With the full support of two Mayors and the entire City Council, we have have seen the transformation of PHB into a City-wide provider of affordable housing policy, services and financial tools. I summarize these accomplishments because the outcome has been truly transformational:

-       N/NE Preference Policy in 2015 – Preference for community residents subject to or at risk of displacement. This pathfinding policy is the first step towards Restorative Justice for people displaced due to public action in the historically black neighborhoods of North and Northeast Portland (Albina and Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area). People displaced or at risk of displacement from the area will have priority access to housing (rental and homeownership) developed through this initiative. ($50 Million invested to date);

-       Declaration of a Housing & Homeless State of Emergency in 2015 – the SOE led to a 50% increase to the amount of urban renewal funding dedicated to affordable housing ($270 million additional TIF resources);

-       Dedicated Short-Term Rental (Transient Lodging Tax) revenue to affordable housing in 2015 – The City of Portland subsequently moved to securitize the TLT revenue into a general-fund backed revenue bond ($9.7 million for land acquisition to replace affordable housing lost to the short-term rental platforms);

-       Funded Home Forward Voucher Utilization Program in 2015 – The Fall Budget Modification Process included culturally specific navigators, a regional fair market rent study and an eviction prevention program;

-       Provided the first tenant protections by any local government in Oregon in 2016 – By requiring a 90- day notice for no cause evictions or rent increases in excess of ten (10) percent, the Portland City Council led by example and motivated the Oregon State Legislature to provide similar statewide tenant protections;

-       Worked with the Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Tina Kotek and legislative leaders including prime sponsors Senator Alan Dembrow and Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer in 2016 to overturn a 17-year prohibition in Oregon prohibiting Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning;

-       Established the Joint Office of Homeless Services with Multnomah County in 2016 – thereby transferring $25 Million and four (4) staff to the office of the Multnomah County Chair;

-       Instituted a Commercial Excise Tax – Beginning in 2016, all residential, commercial and industrial construction projects over $100K help to capitalize offsets for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning ($8-10 million/year);

-       Conducted residual land value analyses in over 30 zones within Portland in 2016 – in consultation with a Panel of Experts instituted Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning citywide for all multifamily and mixed use urban projects over 20 units with density and financial offsets;

-       Conceptualized the first General Obligation Bond for Housing approved by Portland Voters by over 60% in November 2016 authorizing $258.4 Million for Low Income Housing (100% below 60% of the Area Median, half of which will be “family-sized units” and 600 units will be for people with extremely low incomes at or below 30% of the area median income. The first-bond-funded project, The Ellington Apartments-a 263 unit complex, was acquired within 90 days of voter approval. Convened all community stakeholders in 2017 to conceive the Portland Housing Bond Framework Plan which, by adoption of the Portland City Council, will guide housing bond investments for 5-8 years;

-       Implemented Emergency Relocation Protection for Tenants in 2017 – ($2,700-$5,000 per unit depending on bedroom count) is provided to any residential tenants (other than in units owned by demonstrably small landlords) experiencing rent increases of more than 10% or who experience no cause evictions;

-       Created the Office of Renter-Owner Services within PHB in 2017 and staffed the newly created Rental Services Commission. PHB is actively collecting county wide eviction data; supporting enhanced legal services (quintupling the prior level of effort); providing through grantees and service providers relocation assistance for households that need case management and establishing a City- wide Rental Registration Database;

-       With the full support of the City Council, increased the Housing Bureau Budget from $70 million to $215 million, a 300% increase in less than two (2) years;

-       Increased affordable housing production from 700 units to over 2,000 units within two (2) years. PHB pipeline constitutes over 30 specific projects located within high opportunity areas of the City of Portland. Among the most transformational is the PHB’s partnership with Prosper Portland within the Lents Town Center, within the Interstate Corridor Urban Reneal Area and the USPS/Broadway Corridor where over 700 units of affordable housing are ensured for future generations; and

-       Worked with allied bureaus to establish priority permit processing and other process improvements to accelerate the velocity of affordable housing through the permit & design review process citywide.

Bureau staff, management and I have worked tirelessly for the people of Portland. Given these many group accomplishments and the end of the year approval of several momentous projects like Block 45 and River Place Parcel 3, I have decided to explore other opportunities in my field of practice. My last day will be December 8, 2017. I wish you, Mayoral staff, and my colleagues within the City of Portland and our many community partners and stakeholders the very best.

City Council Greenlights New South Waterfront Affordable Housing

December 6, 2017 (Portland, OR) – Portland City Council has approved funding for a new South Waterfront development, known as RiverPlace Parcel 3, that will bring more than 200 units of affordable housing to Southwest Portland’s RiverPlace neighborhood.

The project will feature 201 affordable apartments, including 90 for very-low income households at 0-30 percent of Area Median Income (currently up to $17,940 a year for a family of two), thanks to a commitment of 80 rent-assistance vouchers from Home Forward. Of the 90 deeply affordable units, 10 will serve veterans under the Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, and 20 will provide permanent supportive housing in partnership with Multnomah County and the Joint office of Homeless Services. Another 111 apartments will be affordable for households up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (or $35,880 a year for a family of two). 

The project comes as the result of a joint effort between the Portland Housing Bureau and Prosper Portland to develop an 88,000-square foot parcel owned by Prosper Portland on the corner of SW River Parkway and Moody Avenue with affordable and market-rate housing, as well as commercial space. The nonprofit BRIDGE Housing was selected to develop the site in 2015. 

The approval today of up to $21.7 million in North Macadam Urban Renewal Area funds will allow construction to begin on the 13-story tower in January. 

“This is an exciting opportunity to realize another shovel-ready development that gives more families the chance to live and work in a great area with strong transit connections,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. "RiverPlace Parcel 3 furthers our commitment to providing affordable housing and supportive services for our most vulnerable neighbors, and building vibrant, diverse neighborhoods for all Portlanders.” 

Important upcoming deadline for the Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

Currently, Congress is considering tax reform legislation that will eliminate the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program for MCC certificates with issue dates after December 31, 2017. In order to review and issue MCC certificates by this deadline, the Portland Housing Bureau must receive all closing documents by close of business on Tuesday, December 26, 2017. There will be no exceptions. The MCC program will be on hold until further notice. For more information, contact Sharon Johnson at Sharon.johnson@portlandoregon.gov or by phone at (503) 823-1018

 

Framework Awarded $6M from City of Portland “Fast Starts” Program to Support Affordable Housing

Project reflects Oregon’s leadership in emerging wood products industry of Cross Laminated Timber

 

Home Forward, project^ and the Framework team has been awarded $6M to develop 60 units of affordable housing in what will be the first high-rise structure in the U.S. made from wood and the first earthquake resilient building of its kind in America. The funding award came through the Portland Housing Bureau’s Fast Starts program – a city initiative designed to get shovel-ready affordable housing units built as quickly as possible to react to our city’s housing crisis.

"By investing in Framework, our city will now be home to the first skyscraper made from wood in the United States. This project not only reflects Oregon’s leadership in the newly emerging wood products industry of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), it also demonstrates our city’s commitment to finding innovative ways to quickly deliver affordable units during our housing crisis,” said Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler.

“Framework was selected as a Fast Starts project, after a rigorous process, under the City’s new effort to mobilize resources quickly to alleviate the housing crisis,” said Portland Housing Bureau Director Kurt Creager. “Because so many partners have also contributed to make this important project a reality, we have a great opportunity to begin using this innovative technology in Portland to create more resilient, sustainable, and affordable housing.”

Framework, which received building permit approval in June 2017, was selected for its project readiness; alignment with the City’s equity goals; ability to leverage City funds; new partnerships and philanthropic incentives; and innovation in sustainable materials and earthquake resilience.

Framework’s new technology and innovation are being paid for by grants from the U.S. Forest Service, Metro, Hewlett Foundation, Harbourton Foundation, Edwards Mother Earth Foundation, and the Oregon Community Foundation.

“We are pleased to be part of the mayor’s comprehensive efforts toward providing affordable housing to an underserved community of residents in Portland,” said Anyeley Hallova, developer, project^. “Our proud commitment to social equity and economic opportunity in urban and rural Oregon is being cosigned by a powerhouse alliance of like-minded organizations whose focus is on energy efficiency, conservation, building innovations, rural economic development, sustainable forestry, transit-oriented development, and affordable housing.” 

Framework is an innovative demonstration project that will utilize over 50% of the wood from regionally harvested timber and/or local manufacturing in rural Oregon communities such as Riddle and will be a catalyst for economic development. The goal is to demonstrate a path for tall wood buildings thereby unlocking the demand for new timber and manufacturing jobs and investment in mass timber products.

“We need more affordable units today and additional tools to address our community’s long-term needs. As a public agency, we have a responsibility to help create more options to develop affordable housing that’s seismically safer, more efficient and more sustainable. We’re thrilled to be a part of this innovation for our industry” said Michael Buonocore, Executive Director, Home Forward.

The Framework Project

Framework is being developed by project^ in partnership with Home Forward and designed by LEVER Architectureon land currently owned by Beneficial State Bancorp. Future tenants of the building will support a unique blend of programming including office space for Beneficial State Bank and Albina Community Bank which will provide resources and programs to build resident’s financial capacity, aligned street level retail, BCorp businesses and social enterprise; along with a tall wood exhibit and 60 units of housing affordable at or below 60% Area Median Income (AMI).

Framework is an award-winning project nationally and locally in recognition of its innovative, sustainable design, and pioneering research. The project recently received an acknowledgment prize for North America from the LafargeHolcim Foundation, considered the world’s most significant competition in sustainable design and scooped the national U.S. Tall Wood Buildingprize of $1.5 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Softwood Lumber Board, and Binational Softwood Lumber Council to fund the research necessary to utilize wood products in high-rise construction.

Framework underwent a stringent performance-based review process that included a series of fire, acoustic, and structural tests undertaken at Oregon State University (OSU), Portland State University (PSU), and with the TallWood Design Institute (OSU/UO). The building passed design review approvals from the City of Portland in July 2016 and the official building permit for Framework was approved by the State of Oregon and the City of Portland in June 2017 - signaling a landmark decision for the U.S. construction industry. Construction is planned to begin in early 2018 and be completed by mid-2019.

The Framework Project is represented by a collective of strong industry expertise that will drive the project’s success and will promote the use of wood technologies in future tall building developments. The group includes, in addition to project^ and Home Forward, LEVER Architecture, Walsh Construction Co., KPFF Consulting Engineers, ARUP, PAE Consulting Engineers, 2.ink Studio, and StructureCraft Builders Inc. For additional information, www.frameworkportland.com.

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City Approves Streamlined Green Building Policy for Affordable Housing

The new policy simplifies certification and reduces costs in affordable housing development.

Portland City Council has approved a green building policy designed to reduce costs in affordable housing projects and provide equitable access to healthy, high performing buildings. The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) worked with green building consultants to develop a streamlined policy that maintains LEED and Earth Advantage standards, but narrows requirements to the measures that provide the greatest benefit to affordable multifamily housing: energy, water, and indoor air quality. 

“Focusing on a much smaller and more impactful set of requirements reduces  documentation and administration costs,” said PHB Director Kurt Creager. “The targets we have for energy, water, and indoor air quality are very high, and puts the focus there, where it can make the greatest difference for residents.”

The policy will apply to the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing projects with 20 units or more that receive at least 10 percent of their funding from PHB, as well as PHB-owned buildings. The policy aims to improve tenant health, reduce operation and maintenance costs, and implement the City/County Climate Action Plan, with goals of reaching net zero energy consumption in affordable housing projects by 2050 and 50 percent water reduction by 2040. 

Among other provisions, the new policy requires projects to either include a PV system and EV charging or install infrastructure to be PV and EV ready. It also calls for the use of a Life Cycle Cost Analysis tool developed by Earth Advantage for Oregon that uses building design data to more accurately and consistently measure and compare the construction and operation costs of various green building strategies, allowing design teams and PHB to make informed, data-driven decisions and investments. Over time, the most cost effective strategies will emerge and best practices can be developed that will inform future policy. 

“This forward-thinking policy cuts red tape to help us build high-quality, environmentally friendly, cost-effective housing,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler.