Next week at City Council we will have a chance to share the State of Housing Report with you. It will not become public until tomorrow afternoon when the Council Agenda is posted at this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=26997
We as a City have accomplished a lot—there are over 1,100 affordable units in the pipeline right now—but clearly we have much work to do.
In broad strokes, I wanted to share with you the numerous ways we are working to tackle the affordable housing crisis in Portland. These initiatives have been in the pipeline for some time or have been discussed in Council in various forms. But our phones continue to ring with questions and our email inbox continues to fill with stories of our fellow Portlanders suffering the effects of this tight rental market. Portland is facing some of the highest rental increases in the nation. People are afraid they will be priced out or otherwise displaced from their neighborhood. They are wrestling with Portland’s growth and the impact of infill development on their daily lives. Their stories are living proof of how the lack of housing or housing instability affects mental health and well-being.
Following the State of Housing Report, we have a series of items coming to Council soon related to housing I want you to know about:
- TIF SET-ASIDE INCREASE. At a Council Work Session October 6th Council will discuss a potential increase in the set-aside percentage for affordable housing. I believe we can and must do more with our set-aside funds for affordable housing. A hearing is planned on October 21st with budget and policy adjustments I hope all my colleagues can support.
- FIRST-STEP TENANT PROTECTIONS. As I announced last week, on October 7th I will present what I hope are the first in a series of new tenant protections. We need to act quickly to put reasonable protections in place now for renters and their families and I believe the extension of notification time for no cause termination of tenancies and for exorbitant rent increases are prudent and expedient protections we can fast-track.
- LINKAGE FEE FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING. On October 28th I will be asking for Council support to initiate a study to assess the impacts that commercial and residential development have on the need for affordable housing. This study – a “nexus” study – will calculate that impact in terms of a linkage fee that the City could adopt on all new development. This is a significant piece of solving the affordable housing funding problem that has been facing our City for years.
- SUPPORT FOR LOW-INCOME RENTERS. The impact of high vacancy rates and increasing rents have a disproportionate effect on the ability of Section 8 voucher holders to find and secure rental housing. In partnership with Home Forward, we are proposing a three-fold solution that will require joint funding from both entities. Getting low-income renters with vouchers into units is of utmost importance and I have urged my colleagues to support this funding request.
- EVICTION PREVENTION. I will also be asking them to support in the upcoming Fall budget adjustment, a fund for victims of domestic violence and their children to retain their housing and prevent them from entering homelessness. Forty-five percent of homeless women in the last street count indicated they had been effected by domestic violence.
I want to thank my council colleagues and the Multnomah County Commission for their support of the recent changes to the MULTE program. We expect 200 new units from this program to be online quickly. In addition, this Spring we will also have a chance to adapt our FAR Bonus Program which will provide significant funding for affordable housing and new units.
I hope this information is helpful to you as Council takes up these and other issues related to the affordable housing crisis in the coming months.
As always please feel free to reach out any time to my office by calling (503) 823-4151 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org