City Hall nears deal for affordable housing in South Waterfront

The deal would meet city’s goals of providing more housing options for low-income families in South Waterfront.

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The deal would meet the city’s goals of providing more housing options for low-income families in South Waterfront.

The Portland Tribune reports:

Affordable housing advocates have complained the city was backing off its still unmet goals to include a healthy share of affordable housing as it redevelops the South Waterfront area along the Willamette River, a signature city effort that includes several residential and office towers plus the aerial tram to Oregon Health & Science University. Only 209 affordable apartments have been built in the urban renewal area, leaving the city 579 units shy of its goal. The Portland Housing Bureau recently suggested the city should pare back its goal, which prompted a group of affordable housing activists to spring into action, pressing the city to meet its past commitments.

Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz were sypathetic, and reluctant to approve the expansion of North Macadam until the city recommitted to its original affordable housing goals for North Macadam. They got more clout when Commissioner Dan Saltzman announced some weeks ago that he’d abstain on that expansion because his family owns property in the district. Hales suddenly lacked the three City Council votes needed, prompting him to reschedule a final vote on his urban renewal redo until Jan. 29.

The City Hall deal comes as the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report concluding Oregonians utilizing the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program are whiter, younger and have lower incomes — on average — than the rest of the country.  According to

Heads of households who rent units in properties in the program in Oregon are about three times more likely to be “white alone” than the national average, and only about one-fourth as likely to be “black or African-American alone,” according to the report. The data collected by HUD shows that 68 percent of the heads of Oregon households in the program are white and 5.2 percent are African-American.

Tom Cusack, a retired HUD field director in Oregon who called attention to the report on his Oregon Housing Blog, noted that the question of ethnicity in affordable housing will be front and center when the Supreme Court takes up the question of whether managers of subsidized housing may discriminate on the basis of ethnic background. That argument stems from a Texas case in which a housing authority sued a nonprofit whose mission includes placing Section 8 tenants in the suburbs of Dallas.



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