Mayor Charlie Hales today announced that an additional $66.7 million in funds will be directed to affordable housing projects in five Urban Renewal Districts over the next five years. That money will be added to a pot of $202.3 million already in place in those districts.
The additional resources are the result of an agreement to shift the minimum amount of money known as tax increment financing set aside for affordable housing from 30 percent to 45 percent.
Urban Renewal Areas, or URAs, are sections of the city in which land value is frozen and all subsequent increases in value are funneled into specific projects to benefit the district. Those redirected funds are known as tax increment financing, or TIF.
“We have great projects in various stages of planning, in each district,” Hales said. “But we are in a housing crisis. Given that, we have scrubbed each URA in detail, looking at both opportunities and costs, in an effort to direct money toward affordable housing while maintaining projects to enhance jobs, livability and equity.”
“To seriously address the affordability crisis, we have to look at all potential sources of funding,” Saltzman said. “Increasing the amount of money we spend in urban renewal areas for housing is a community-led solution which I am pleased to join the Mayor and Commissioner Fish to support.”
Two action plans, already OK’d by the Portland City Council, will remain intact: The Old Town/China Town Five Year Action Plan within the River District, and the Lents Action Plan.
“The areas of the city that will see the largest increase in affordable housing resources are North and Northeast Portland, and the River District,” Hales said.
The Urban Renewal Districts affected are: Gateway, Interstate, Lents, North Macadam and the River District.
Earlier this month, Hales and the City Council declared a State of Emergency on housing, which will allow more shelter and housing projects to be put on a fast track.
Some housing advocates had suggested increasing the minimum set-aside of TIF money to 50 percent. Hales and Saltzman settled on 45 percent, which will maintain the City’s commitments to neighborhoods, keeping intact substantial non-housing projects.
The Council will have a hearing on the proposed changes at the Oct. 28 City Council meeting, with a vote expected the following week.