CALL TO ACTION: Share your support for investments in housing opportunity!

This week began with the OHCS Budget Hearings – it’s three days of committee hearings on HB 5011, which is the OHCS budget as it is included in the Governor’s budget. 

This is our opportunity for advocates to testify. We need to share support for important parts of the budget, and help Legislators understand how resources create housing opportunity in our communities.

On Monday, March 29th, the Committee will hold one day of public testimony. Written testimony will be accepted until the following day, Tuesday, March 30th at 8:00 AM.

Written testimony:

Submit your written testimony online by following this link!

Address your letter to:

Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development

Attention: Co-Chair Beyer, Co-Chair Gomberg, and Members of the Committee.

Open your letter by stating the name of your organization and that you are writing to support HB 5011.

Next, share your organization’s mission and the geographic area that you serve. Then, share one or two sentences about who your organization serves in your community, and the work your organization does to help create housing opportunity.

Now, share a value statement about why you do this work. For example: “At (organization name), we believe everyone deserves a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.”

Share a statistic or data point about the housing needs in your community.

Now it’s time to get into the details:

Share with the Committee what you’re advocating for. Here are the things that you could advocate on that will be discussed or included in the budget:

  • Additional resources to support preventing or ending homelessness, through investments in the Emergency Housing Account and State Homeless Assistance Program, or investments in ending homelessness for children and families;
  • Additional resources to support developing new affordable rental homes.
  • Additional resources to maintain affordable housing.
  • Additional resources to support developing new affordable homes for sale.

Share a little bit about your expertise related to the issue you’re advocating for, and why you know you could make a difference with more resources:

  • How many people or families does your organization serve? Have you built affordable rental homes, or do you provide rental assistance? Help paint a picture for how we can solve these problems in our community by sharing your organization’s work and success.
  • What has it meant for the families you serve to have housing stability?
  • What changes have you seen for families who have access to housing stability? Has it impacted their financial stability? Their educational outcomes? Their health outcomes? Share a story about why a stable home impacts these areas of people’s lives?
  • How has COVID affected the communities you serve, and how would additional funding for OHCS mean for your organization and those communities?
  • Does your organization have a waiting list for the services you are advocating for? How long is that waiting list?
  • If you had more resources, what could you do with them?
  • Help the Committee to understand that you can create housing opportunities to individuals, families, and communities, if you had more resources.

Last, it’s time for the ask:

Ask for their support of your priority issue. If you need a guide, here is what the Housing Alliance is requesting or supporting (Pick one that relates to the subject of your letter):

  • Emergency Housing Account and State Homelessness Assistance Program: Included in the OHCS budget is $40 million for the Emergency Housing Account (EHA) and State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP). The Housing Alliance and partners are advocating for $50 million for these two programs to prevent and end homelessness.
  • Long term rent assistance for youth: Oregon also has one of the highest rates of youth homelessness, including youth in the K-12 system, youth exiting the foster care system, and unaccompanied youth. Oregon should commit $4.5 million to provide long term rent assistance for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Staffing for Individual Development Accounts: Individual Development Accounts provide matched savings to Oregonians with low incomes. Advocates are working to support HB 2551 to renew the tax credit which funds the Initiative. HB 5011 would support staffing at OHCS to support the Initiative;
  • Agricultural Workforce Housing Tax Credit: Agricultural workers and their families are in need of safe and affordable homes to live in, either temporarily during harvest or permanently.  Many agricultural workers live in substandard or overcrowded housing, while working hard to put food on the table for Oregon families. The credit is used to develop housing for agricultural workers both on farms and in the community. The current program is capped at $15 million per biennium, and the Governor’s Budget proposes to expand this to $24 million.
  • LIFT for Rental Housing and Homeownership: Additional resources to develop regulated affordable housing are needed, including rental and homeownership opportunities. Since 2015, developers have successfully utilized general obligation bonds to build affordable housing through the Local Innovation and Fast Track, or LIFT Housing program. In 2021, the Legislature should commit $250 million in Article XI-Q General Obligation bonds to this successful program for rental and homeownership units.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing: Permanent supportive housing is one of the key solutions to ending homelessness for people who experience health conditions, mental health issues, or addictions disorders. The Legislature should commit $50 million in General Obligation Bonds and resources for rent assistance and services to help develop new supportive housing across Oregon.
  • Preservation of 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 $100 million in Lottery Bonds to meet needs to maintain existing affordable housing across Oregon.
  • Land Acquisition: Purchasing land when it is available is critical. Oregon has a successful but underfunded Land Acquisition Program at OHCS, which has been successfully used to purchase and hold land for affordable housing while the developer puts together financing. The Governor’s budget proposes $20 million.
  • Down Payment Assistance: Across Oregon, people are eager to purchase their first home, but are struggling because of rising home prices. Assistance for down payments can help homeowners get into their first home. OHCS is requesting $10 million to pair with their new loan product for first time home buyers.
  • Addressing Racial Disparities in Homeownership: OHCS is seeking $2 million to provide expand funding for staff to provide technical assistance and outreach to communities of color. Some strategies include: language access technical assistance, collaboration with culturally specific organizations, and outreach strategies targeted to communities of color.
  • Manufactured Home Park Preservation and Manufactured Home Replacement: Across Oregon, manufactured home parks are at risk of sale or closure. HB 5011 includes $3.5 million to increase efforts to preserve manufactured home parks. In addition, thousands of Oregonians live in manufactured homes that were built before stricter laws were implemented by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for health, safety, design, and materials, or people may have lost their manufactured homes due to wildfire. HB 5011 expands on a program funded in 2019 to support homeowners to replace their homes.
  • Resources to develop affordable homeownership opportunities: Households across Oregon are seeking an affordable home to buy, but cannot find a first home that is affordable. More resources are needed to develop affordable homes for purchase across Oregon. OHCS is seeking $10 million for this effort.

Share what you think the impact of this investment might be. How would these resources help your community? What would you be able to build, or who would you serve? How would individuals, families, and communities benefit from this type of investment?

Close your letter by thanking the Committee for their attention and for their service.

Remember to sign your name, and submit your letter at the latest by Tuesday, March 30th at 8 am by following this link!