Bend, Portland, address affordable housing problems

Two of the biggest metro areas in the state are struggling to provide housing for low-income families.

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Two of the biggest metro areas in the state are struggling to provide housing for low-income families.

An advisory commission for Portland said city officials should consider spending tens of millions more to make options available.

The bold proposal – likely to set off debate among housing advocates and business interests – would radically alter spending priorities in Portland urban districts by moving affordable housing to the front of the line.

The Portland Housing Advisory Commission this week unanimously recommended spending at least 50 percent of money within urban renewal districts on affordable housing. The current policy requires a 30-percent minimum.


Commissioner Dan Saltzman — who oversees the housing bureau — supported the proposal.

The Oregonian described how each of City Hall’s major players reacted to the advisement.

Commissioner Nick Fish – Portland’s former housing commission said he supports a “substantial increase” to the existing 30-percent policy. But he said changes may need to happen on a district-by-district basis rather than across the board.

“I love the fact that they put down this marker,” said Fish, who plans to work with Saltzman on next steps. “It’s bold, it’s visionary, and it deserves a council hearing.”


In Bend, a plan is in the works to infuse 100 affordably-priced units to the booming Central Oregon city.

Wednesday, councilors approved an affordable housing exemption for system development charges, which are levied against new construction and are intended to reflect the cost of expanding infrastructure to accommodate new residents.

By reducing the cost of construction, the SDC exemption makes it possible for a developer to offer houses or apartments at a lower price than would otherwise be possible. Bend currently collects $4,928 in SDCs for transportation, $3,058 for sewers and $4,868 for water on a single-family home, with slightly lower rates for apartment units and other forms of multifamily housing. Eligible projects could receive a full exemption for water and sewer SDCs, and a 75 percent reduction in the fees for transportation.

(SOURCE: Bend Bulletin)

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