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.”
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