Most Oregonians believe that a stable home is the foundation for creating a healthier life for families, educational opportunities for kids and more economically vibrant communities. Our communities are better and stronger when we and our neighbors can afford to pay for housing and still have money left over for necessities, including food or medicine.
We made significant progress this session, securing resources and implementing new policies that will make a meaningful difference for Oregonians in need of affordable homes. The Housing Alliance’s 2016 legislative agenda addressed some of the biggest issues facing our state, including housing affordability, homelessness, and renter protections. We are grateful for all of your support in letting your legislators know how important housing opportunity is to you, and we are excited for what we can achieve together in 2017!
Oregon’s tight housing market, spiking rents and no-cause evictions mean that tenants need help immediately to stay in their homes. Basic protections would help create balance for renters and keep them stably housed.
- Tenants need longer notice periods before rent increases (HB 4143)
- Tenants should not be evicted except for good reasons (HB 4143)
Results: The final version of HB 4143 prohibits rent increases during the first year of tenancy, helping those on month-to-month rental agreements better predict their expenses. It also requires 90 days' notice for any rent increases after the first year, enabling families to better plan for the increase.
Produce Affordable Housing
Oregonians need 50,000 homes to be built in order to reach the state goals set in 2015. We need to provide both resources and tools for communities to start creating more housing now:
- Fully fund the Local Innovations and Fast Track (LIFT) development program to develop affordable housing -- $60 million general obligation bonds (SB 1582 creates a statutory framework and provides General Fund for this program)
- Lift the preemption on local government authority to implement inclusionary zoning policies and require that new developments, both rental and ownership, include affordable units (SB 1533)
Results: SB 1582 passed, creating a statutory framework for the LIFT program. SB 1533 passed with significant amendments. The final bill allows local governments to implement inclusionary zoning with a number of sideboards, and also permits them to impose a construction excise tax on new residential development, with proceeds to support affordable housing. You can read a summary of SB 1533 here. (The Housing Alliance was neutral on the amended version of SB 1533.)
Preserve Existing Affordable Housing
At the same time as we are developing more affordable housing, we’re at risk of losing hundreds of existing affordable homes—especially for people with very low incomes and the elderly. We must preserve what we have so that families and seniors can stay in their homes.
- Stabilize existing affordable homes to keep residents in place and rents affordable – in housing with rent subsidies and manufactured home parks – $17.5 million in Lottery Backed Bonds
- Offer counseling and legal support to homeowners in foreclosure mediation –budget request of $2.7 million
- Provide certainty for affordable housing providers – eliminate the sunset created in 2014 (HB 4039) and maintain property tax exemptions for non-profit owners of affordable housing until a long-term legislative solution is found (HB 4081)
Results: The final budget included $2.5 million for preservation of existing affordable housing and $2.7 million for foreclosure counseling. HB 4081 passed, providing affordable housing providers the predictability needed to keep rents affordable.
Prevent and End Homelessness
No Oregonian should have to worry about having a place to sleep at night. Record numbers of children—more than 20,000—are experiencing homelessness. It’s our obligation to live up to Oregon’s values.
- Emergency Housing Account and the State Homeless Assistance Program keep people stable in housing or move people off the streets –$8 million EHA, $2 million SHAP
Results: The Legislature appropriated the full $10 million for EHA and SHAP, doubling the amount of funds for critical housing assistance for the biennium!
The Oregon Housing Alliance is convened by the nonprofit Neighborhood Partnerships