The 2020 Housing Opportunity Agenda 

The 2020 Legislature should act to help Oregonians achieve housing stability. These proposals are the Housing Alliance's recommendations to support more Oregonians to access opportunity through safe, stable, and affordable housing.

Long Term Rental Assistance (HB 4002): In Oregon, three out of four households with extremely low incomes pay over half of their income towards rent. Households who experience a severe rent burden are at increased risk of homelessness. Long-term rent assistance is an effective strategy to prevent homelessness and provide an opportunity for affordable housing for people with low incomes around the state. However, existing resources are insufficient to meet the need. Federal tenant based or project based vouchers serve one in four households that are eligible for long term rental subsidies. In 2020, the Legislature should pass HB 4002, and fund a cost analysis study to assess the cost of providing a long term rental assistance program to support Oregonians with low incomes.

Address Emergency Needs for Housing and Homelessness (HB 4001): Oregon doesn’t have enough shelter or affordable places to call home for everyone that needs one. Our state has one of the highest rates of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, meaning they are sleeping outside, in a tent, or a car. Our state must respond to the housing challenges our communities are facing by making serious investments in housing opportunity and safety. House Speaker Kotek is proposing a package of investments in emergency shelter and building and maintaining affordable housing, including: $40 million to increase capacity for emergency shelters, $50 million to build more affordable homes, $20 million to maintain affordable homes, and $10 million for other priority investments. The Housing Alliance joins with Speaker Kotek to call on the Legislature to pass HB 4001 and dedicate $120 million to address critical housing needs.

Property Tax Exemption, Updates for affordable housing (SB 1531): Over the years, the Legislature has authorized several local option property tax exemptions for affordable housing, including ORS 307.515 and ORS 307.540. Local option property tax exemptions are one tool local jurisdictions can use to help incentivize and make affordable housing developments financially viable in their communities. Recently, the federal government made a critical change that will allow for more people of different income levels to be served by affordable housing. The Legislature should update the local option property tax exemptions to align with this new criteria by including this update in SB 1531. 

Preserve and Maintain existing affordable housing: Across Oregon, we need to maintain our supply of existing affordable housing, and reinvestment is needed to maintain safe, stable, and affordable homes. These funds are needed to help to maintain all regulated, multifamily affordable housing, as well as public housing and manufactured home parks. The Legislature should commit $10 million in Lottery Bonds to meet needs to maintain existing affordable housing across Oregon.

Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative: The Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative is a matched savings program which is one of Oregon’s only tools to help people with low incomes build assets such as a home, a small business, or an education. The Initiative is flexible, and supports the unique approaches of culturally specific, rural and urban partners as they work to build better futures in their communities. The Initiative has been funded through a state tax credit.  Because of changes in federal tax law and IRS code, the Initiative is facing significant funding cuts for 2020 and 2021. Action in 2019 (HB 2164) partially addressed these threats, but the cuts will be significant unless the Legislature acts. At least $4.5 million in one-time only resources is needed to keep the Initiative whole through 2019-21 biennium, plus conversion of the already budgeted credit to general fund for the remaining 2019 credit and all 2020 credit, for a total of $10.1 million.

In addition, the Housing Alliance has endorsed several proposals.

The Oregon Housing Alliance is convened by the nonprofit Neighborhood Partnerships