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main phone: 503-823-4120
Opinion line: 503-823-4127
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 340, Portland, OR 97204
January 3, 2018
Subject: Smart Affordable Housing Investments by Portland Deliver More Bang for the Buck
Our city is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis, brought on (in part) by decades of massive disinvestment in federal funding for affordable housing, an underinvestment in housing development during the Great Recession, and a rapidly increasing local population that has created a significant supply and demand issue. As a result, my administration has committed to dramatically increase the number of affordable housing units in Portland.
In 2017, my first year in office, the City – through the Housing Investment Committee (HIC) – approved more than 1,100 units of affordable housing. In all, the Portland Housing Bureau currently has projects underway that will preserve or create 2,200 homes for low and moderate-income Portlanders. Add to this total, the 1,300 affordable units that will be preserved or created under the Housing Bond, approved by voters in November of 2016, and we have begun to make tangible progress toward our housing goals.
The City recently approved funding for a Pearl District development called Framework, which demonstrates how smart funding decisions can leverage federal and philanthropic resources to produce more affordable housing units. The project will cost nearly $29 million, but the city investment is modest, at $6 million. That’s like paying for a Toyota and getting a Tesla in return.
Framework was the only project in the River District that was submitted for funding. We approved this funding due to the project’s ability to leverage a variety of funding and because the Pearl has been designated a “Metropolitan Difficult to Develop Neighborhood” by the federal government.
Here are some important things to know about the Framework project:
The ability to leverage our investment is essential:
Obama administration Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said about Framework, “By embracing the benefits of wood as a sustainable building material, these demonstration projects [Framework and 475 West 18th in NY] have the ability to help change the face of our communities, mitigate climate change and support jobs in rural America.”
The innovations made possible by this development are why Framework has been recognized with the Portland Design Commission Excellence Award, the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize, an Honorable Mention at the Architects Newspaper Best of Design Awards (Research Category), and has attracted funding from organizations like Home Forward, Meyer Memorial Trust, and the Oregon Community Foundation.
As we work to solve our housing emergency, we must continue to be vigilant about the effective use of public dollars dedicated to this effort. Smart investments, made transparently, toward projects that meet their budgets and timelines, will help us deliver more affordable housing while maintaining the trust of the public.