Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

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

More Contact Info

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the N/NE Preference Policy?

The history of urban renewal and other actions by City government in North and Northeast Portland have marginalized and displaced many longtime residents of that community. The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) developed the N/NE Preference Policy as a tool to begin addressing the harmful impacts of this legacy by prioritizing families and individuals with generational ties to N/NE Portland for new affordable housing opportunities in the area. The policy identifies areas within N/NE Portland that were subject to high levels of urban renewal, and gives preference to housing applications from current or former residents of those areas, and their descendants. View maps of these areas here. Note: The Preference Policy determines the order of applicants on waiting lists for housing, not their eligibility for housing programs.

How does it work?

PHB funds the development of affordable rental housing, ownership housing, and down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers. When any of these opportunities become available in the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area, PHB will advertise an open application round for for those openings. Top priority is given to families who owned property that was taken by Portland City government through eminent domain (during the building of Memorial Coliseum or the expansion of Emanuel Hospital, for example), and their descendants.

All other applicants receive “preference points” based on current or historic residency in N/NE Portland. Up to three points are possible if your current or former address falls within one of the identified areas where City plans had a destabilizing effect on long-term residents. Up to three additional points are possible if the current or former address of your parent/guardian or grandparent falls within one of the identified areas, for a maximum possible total of six points. (View maps of the areas and their corresponding points here).

Note: The Preference Policy determines the order of applicants on waiting lists for housing, not their eligibility for housing programs.

Once the application round has closed, PHB sorts the list of applicants in order of points received, from highest to lowest, with eminent domain households at the top of the list, followed by six-point households, then five-point households, and so on. PHB will notify applicants by mail of their waitlist status. Once preference has been verified, PHB forwards applicants from the top of the list to the community partner or leasing agent of the property to be screened for their housing eligibility. Regardless of preference, applicants must income-qualify to be eligible and standard screening criteria for rental housing, such as rental history, will apply. Applicants will need to pay an application fee to proceed with screening, but the application to receive preference is free and open to anyone.

What if I have more than one former address that is eligible for preference? Or more than one address for my parent/guardian/grandparent?

You must enter one address for yourself and one for a parent/guardian or grandparent. Each address will qualify for 0-3 points, for a maximum total of 6 points. If you or your parent/guardian/grandparent have had more than one address in N/NE Portland, or if you have more than one parent/guardian/grandparent with an eligible address, you can choose which one to list for yourself on your application and which one to list for a parent/guardian/grandparent. You are encouraged to test different combinations before finalizing your application to determine which two addresses will yield the highest point value. If you currently live in the same house as a parent or guardian, of if you currently occupy a home previously occupied by a parent or guardian, you may list the same address twice.

Who is eligible?

The application for preference is free and open to anyone. PHB housing programs serve low- and moderate- income households. Households must have an annual income between 30-60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) to be eligible for the rental units. Click here for the AMI chart to find out if you are income eligible.

How do I apply?

PHB will be accepting preference applications for two new apartment complexes, Charlotte B. Rutherford Place and The Beatrice Morrow, between Thursday, February 8, 2018 and Thursday, February 22, 2018. The application will be available online beginning Thursday, February 8 at 8:00 am and must be completed and submitted before 11:59 pm on Thursday, February 22, 2018. The date and time an application is received during the application period will not affect an applicant's position on the waitlist. Applications must be submitted online, so you will need to use a device that has access to the internet. It should take about 20 minutes or less to complete the application. 

What if I don’t have access to a computer?

PHB has partnered with Multnomah County Library branches throughout the Portland Metro Area to provide applicants with computer access and on-site application assistance beginning Thursday, February 8. You can find a list of application sites here as well as a schedule of when PHB staff will be on-site to provide application assistance, beginning Thursday, February 8.

If I want to submit a paper application what should I do?

Paper applications are available upon request for people who have a disability, need translation, or who have another barrier to applying online. To submit a paper application:

  • Call 503-823-4147 to request that a paper application be mailed to you.
  • Completed paper applications must be postmarked no later than Thursday, February 22, 2018 to be eligible. Mail them to N/NE Preference Waitlist PO Box 28289, Portland, OR  97228
  • Faxed applications must be received by 11:59 PM on Thursday, February 22, 2018. Fax them to 503-823-2387, Attention: N/NE Preference Waitlist

What information will I need to have to complete the application?

  1. Full names of all household members
  2. Date of birth for all household members
  3. Your current mailing address – this can be the address where you are currently living or a stable address where you regularly receive mail.
  4. A current email address and/or phone number.
  5. Income information, including the source and amount of income for each household member.
  6. A current or former address of yourself that is eligible for preference points
  7. A current or former address of your parent/guardian or grandparent that is eligible for preference points – you may use the address of a parent/guardian or grandparent who is deceased.

I have a disability preventing me from completing the application, what can I do?

Reasonable accommodation request forms for individuals experiencing a disability are available here. Submit your request electronically to or by mail to:

N/NE Preference Waitlist/PHB

421 SW 6th Ave, Suite 500

Portland, OR 97204

Staff at PHB can also accept accommodation requests given verbally, over the phone, and can assist you in completing the form. The request must be submitted before the application deadline. We are unable to process requests received after the application deadline. If you are having trouble finding or accessing a request form, call the PHB helpline for assistance.

My application status says “Active” (or “Inactive”). What does that mean?

Each application round will have a set number of openings to fill – either based on the number of housing units available or how many homebuyers we have funding for at a time. Once the application period closes and applicants have been sorted in order of preference points, a predetermined number of applicants from the top of the list will be put on an “Active” waitlist for those openings. Because not all applicants will complete the process to qualify for the housing programs offered, the number on the Active waitlist will be greater than the number of openings available.

Everyone else will be placed on an “Inactive” waitlist, meaning: they may still be considered for that application round, but only if there are openings remaining after the Active waitlist has been exhausted. Applicants on the Inactive waitlist will be notified by mail of their status in the current round every three months until all the advertised openings have been filled. Anyone who does not receive housing during an application round can still be considered for future opportunities, but they must reapply. Sign up here to receive email notifications about future preference application rounds for rental and homeownership opportunities in N/NE Portland.

How do I show that I/my family was displaced from N/NE Portland?

Once you are notified that you are on the Active waitlist for housing, you will be given a predetermined amount of time to submit documents verifying the address information you provided on your application, but you don’t need them when you apply. Documents like utility bills, pay stubs, vehicle registrations, military ID cards, and lease agreements can be submitted as verification. Click here to see a complete list of valid documents and where to obtain them. Again, you will only need these if you are selected for the waiting list. More detailed instructions will be provided in the notification letters. 

How do I determine my household size? Who is considered a member of my household?

Household size is a factor in determining income-eligibility for housing programs. In this case, household size refers to the number of individuals permanently residing together in the housing unit. To determine your household size, count everyone permanently residing in your home, including yourself.

How do I know you received my application?

If you apply online, the online application will generate a reference number for you when you submit. This reference number will also be emailed to you if you provided an email address on your application. If you are submitting a paper application, PHB will mail you a confirmation letter with your reference number. If you submitted a paper application that that is ineligible or incomplete, we will mail you a letter giving you up to 14 days to correct the application.

Can I get more time to fill out my application?

You must submit your application between Thursday, February 8, 2018 and Thursday, February 22, 2018 to be considered for this round. If you need assistance with your application in order to meet the deadline, contact the PHB helpline, or visit the PHB website for a list of community partners who can help you. Application rounds for future opportunities will be advertised on the PHB website. Sign up here to receive email notifications about future preference application rounds for rental housing and homeownership opportunities in N/NE Portland.

How do I update information/correct mistakes on my application if I’ve already submitted it?

You can update or change your information at any time by filling out the Application Update Form available here (call the hotline at 503-823-4147 or email to request to have one sent to you).

If I get the maximum number of preference points, do I automatically get housing?

No. Preference does not guarantee housing. Applicants must still meet the eligibility criteria for the particular housing type or program being advertised. Factors such as your household income, credit score, and debt may be considered in determining whether you qualify.

If I am selected from the waiting list but I don’t qualify for the housing offered, what happens then?

If you do not qualify for the opportunity being offered in this application round and are still interested in housing opportunities, we recommend you work with a partnering agency to mitigate those barriers to housing. You may also complete an Application Update Form to be considered for other housing opportunities in the future, which may include both homeownership and rental options. Sign up here to receive email notifications about future preference application rounds for rental housing and homeownership opportunities in N/NE Portland.

If I am not selected in this round, will my application be automatically considered for other housing opportunities in the future?

No. To be considered for future PHB housing opportunities in N/NE, you will need to complete an Application Update Form and indicate that you would like to be in the applicant pool for the upcoming round. Update forms for each application round will be available online 14 days prior to the open application period. Sign up here to receive email notifications about future preference application rounds for rental housing and homeownership opportunities in N/NE Portland.

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to apply?

No. Both U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens can apply. Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are one of the following:

  • U.S. permanent resident, with a Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Receipt Card or “Green Card”)
  • Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
  • Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Indefinite Parole,” “Humanitarian Parole,” or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”
  • A citizen of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM).

I’m on the waiting list. Now what should I do? 

We advise applicants to check their position on the waiting list once a month by calling 503-823-4147 and keep us informed of any changes to your contact information or household composition. Our first contact will be by mail. If we send you a letter and it gets returned, your name may be removed from the wait list. Also, be alert for letters that require your response. We may send a letter requesting information. If you do not respond to the letter, your name may be removed from the wait list.

You must inform PHB of any changes in your address or contact information in writing within 10 calendar days of the change. Please send a written letter notification of changes by U.S. mail or hand delivered to Attention: N/NE Preference Waitlist PO Box 28289 Portland, OR 97228 or by e-mail at