Portland City Council to determine $20M anti-gentrification proposal

Housing roundup: North/Northeast neighborhoods push back against gentrification, driving away Trader Joe’s; South Waterfront aims to include affordable housing; Portland home prices rise in 2014.

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The Portland City Council will determine the fate of $20 million mayor Charlie Hales pledged to fight gentrification in the North and Northeast neighborhoods of the city.

Hales committed the money in wake of a proposal from the grocer Trader Joe’s to redevelop the corner of NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Alberta Street.

The Portland Tribune reported on the breakdown of funds:

  • $8 million to building between 70 and 140 permanently affordable rental homes.
  • $5 million build up to 32 affordable homes and help up to 40 households purchase homes.
  • $4 million for repairs to help up to 240 households stay in their homes.
  • $3 million to purchase land for future housing.

The executive summary explains the need for the spending by saying, “Less than two decades ago, the neighborhoods that comprise inner North and Northeast Portland were home to the highest concentration of African American residents anywhere in the city — or in the state. Although decades of segregation had once confined them there, community will had also given rise to a vibrant cultural center, replete with African American businesses, churches, and other cultural institutions. City efforts during the 1990s to address the growing problems of crime and blight that had begun to consume the area brought about profound neighborhood transformations, but left many long- time residents with fewer and fewer affordable housing options. Within a decade, the percentage of African Americans in the total population of the area had fallen by more than half.”

Meanwhile at the South Waterfront project, Portland is promising to build more than 200 units priced for low-income families.

From the Portland Tribune’s report on the city’s effort to balance developer’s goals with the demands of activists:

For years, city officials have promised a mix of income ranges while devoting huge sums of urban renewal money to create an entirely new community along the Willamette River, known for its landmark aerial tramway. But the city has managed to deliver only one 209-unit affordable apartment project — 579 units short of its official goal.

South Waterfront shouldn’t be “an enclave for the wealthy” given all the public investment, says Ruth Adkins, policy director for Oregon Opportunity Network, a coalition of affordable housing advocates.

In citywide news, 2014 marked a year with more than $2.2 billion of investment in multifamily, office and industrial properties, according to the Portland Business Journal.

OregonLive.com expanded on the real estate news that Portland is emerging as one of the United States’ stronger housing markets:

“With the spring home buying season (and spring training) still a month or two away, the housing recovery is barely on first base,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Prospects for a home run in 2015 aren’t good. Strong price gains are limited to California, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, Denver and Dallas.”

Portland is in the top tier of the country’s slowly rebounding housing markets, according to the index, which compares sale prices of matched pairs of houses in each market. Figures released Tuesday morning included sales through November 2014.