Bend addresses lack of affordable housing

Development fees targeted by committee convened to address dearth of housing options for working class residents.

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The Bend Affordable Housing Advisory Committee submitted a series of recommendations to the city council focused on reducing system development charges.

The Bend Bulletin reported on the meeting held Tuesday evening.

SDCs imposed by the city and the Bend Park & Recreation District to pay for the new roads, sewer-system upgrades and parks required by new development add hundreds of thousands of dollars to construction costs and increase home prices, builders say.

“The single most important thing the city can do” is reduce SDCs for affordable housing, said Tom Kemper, executive director of Housing Works and a panel member. Housing Works is the public housing authority for Central Oregon. Kemper said the need for affordable housing and more rental property in Bend is at a crisis stage.

Making affordable housing more readily available has been a constant discussion in Portland of late as well.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman said Wednesday that the city won’t be able to achieve these goals without incentives or mandates for developers. reports:

During a Wednesday meeting, the City Council began reviewing a broad, 20-year vision for downtown Portland and surrounding westside neighborhoods called the “West Quadrant Plan.” In that plan, the city sets an “ambitious goal” that by the year 2035 about 30 percent of all units in the central city will be affordable to individuals or families earning up to 80 percent of the region’s median. Saltzman, in charge of the Portland Housing Bureau, said in a Jan. 26 memo that target simply isn’t possible under the current model. …

Saltzman’s solution? He said the city has a “once in a generation opportunity” to advance affordable housing production through city and state legislative changes. On the city front, Saltzman wants to offer unspecified incentives to developers – likely density and height bonuses – if developers voluntarily include affordable units or, perhaps, pay into a fund to build affordable housing elsewhere. But Saltzman said officials need to time such incentives or risk losing the opportunity because of state land-use laws protecting owners’ development rights.