2019 Legislative Session Recap

Wow. I think we can say with absolutely certainty that we have never seen a Legislative session quite like that! From the early passage of landmark protections for renters, to historic investments in affordable housing, to the passage of a bill that legalizes more housing options across Oregon, to the end of a session complete with fireworks, it has been an action packed five and a half months.

We began this historic session with a big and bold Housing Opportunity Agenda, and a long list of endorsements for critical bills to address housing challenges statewide.

In February, we, along with the Stable Homes for Oregon coalition, passed historic protections for people who rent their homes through SB 608. This landmark bill made the national news, and provides protections against rent spikes and no-cause evictions.

In March, we held one of our most successful Housing Opportunity Days ever, with people coming from all over Oregon to advocate for safe, stable, and affordable homes.

We finished March with a hearing on a landmark budget for Oregon Housing and Community Services, and we had over 35 people pack the hearing room, and speak to the Committee about how important it was to them to have safe, stable, and affordable homes.

In April, we hit the mid-point of what now feels like an incredibly long Legislative session. We started to see final votes on some of our policy bills, including a technical fix bill (HB 2812), a bill that would require attorney’s fees when affordable housing developments are challenged to the Land Use Board of Appeals (SB 8), and more.

May was when things really began to heat up with the State Revenue Forecast, and the beginning of serious budget negotiations. Advocates all over Oregon emailed their Legislators about preventing and ending homelessness, building and maintaining affordable housing, and supporting access to affordable homeownership. Thank you for making your voices and priorities heard – it made a real difference!

Finally June, the last month of the session. We continued to work hard to advocate for more resources, and heard the great news about important investments in emergency rent assistance, shelter, foreclosure counseling, and staffing in the OHCS budget (SB 5512).

And after the last, longest week, and a long weekend of Legislative action, all of our collective hard work has paid off and we have helped secure significant resources to create and maintain more affordable homes, to prevent and end homelessness for more Oregonians, and to help people maintain access to affordable homeownership, including:

  • $50 million for emergency rent assistance and shelter through EHA/SHAP (SB 5512);
  • $150 million in general obligation bonds to build more affordable homes for rent and for sale through the LIFT Program (HB 5005);
  • $25 million in lottery bonds to preserve and maintain access to affordable housing (HB 5030);
  • $1.5 million for counseling for homeowners facing foreclosure (SB 5512);
  • $50 million in general obligation bonds to build new permanent supportive housing (HB 5005);
  • $15 million in lottery bonds to create an acquisition fund for low cost market rate housing (HB 5030);
  • $9.5 million to help preserve manufactured home parks (HB 2896);
  • $2.5 million to help homeowners of aging manufactured homes to receive assistance decommissioning and replacing their homes (HB 2896);
  • $3 million for survivors of domestic violence for access to housing (HB 2006);
  • $3 million for renters to receive access to renter education, renter hotline services, and navigation services (HB 2006); and
  • $4.2 million for the Oregon Hunger Response Fund (HB 5050);
  • $10.5 million for families with children experiencing housing instability (HB 2032).

We also helped to secure passage of significant policy victories:

  • Providing basic protections for renters through SB 608;
  • Allowing more housing types in our neighborhoods by legalizing duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, and cottage clusters through HB 2001;
  • Creating a right of first refusal for all affordable housing to prevent the loss of any homes through HB 2002;
  • Critical sunset extensions for: a property tax exemption for affordable housing, for the Agricultural Workforce Housing Tax Credit, for a tax credit for residents of manufactured home parks facing closure, for a capital gains exemption for manufactured home parks which are sold to nonprofits, housing authorities, or resident cooperatives, a sunset extension and small expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a critical change to the Oregon IDA Initiative Tax Credit through HB 2164;
  • Changes to improve transitional housing campgrounds (or camps for folks experiencing homelessness) through HB 2916;
  • Attorney’s fees for affordable housing projects that are challenged to the Land Use Board of Appeals through SB 8;
  • Protecting the Fairview Trust by transferring it to Oregon Community Foundation through SB 491; and
  • A technical fix to receivership programs to allow cities to use this to address blighted homes through HB 2285.

We should all be incredibly proud of the work we accomplished, collectively. We owe huge thanks to our Legislative champions, most notably Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Chair of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing, Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Senator Shemia Fagan, and Governor Kate Brown.  Their bold vision and commitment to these issues helped secure these resources.

We also owe huge thanks to all of you who showed up, who shared your stories and experiences and knowledge, who shared the solutions our communities and organizations have to offer, and who helped to create political will and momentum for these victories.

Together, we can work to make sure every Oregonian has a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. While there is more work to do, we hope you will all pause to reflect and celebrate these historic victories before we roll up our sleeves and start thinking about the 2020 Legislative session.

Thank you.