Portland’s Affordable Housing Bond: Where Are We Now?

One of the reasons I decided to move back to the PNW is because I missed the weather.  That seems like a crazy thing to say but after 1 year of Phoenix heat, I tapped out and got my ass back to the rain.  There were a number of reasons that Portland made the most sense but I would be lying if I did not mention that Affordable Housing Bond passed by voters in Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah Counties.   The metro area is one of the greatest laboratories in the USA if you work in and are passionate about affordable housing and homeless issues.   The voters passed the bond in November and now the implementing jurisdictions are fast at work to move along the process of getting units developed.  Lets check in on where we are at.

First off as a reminder, there are 8 implementing jurisdictions who will be in charge of ensuring 3,900 units of affordable housing are developed or acquired.

  • City of Hillsboro
  • City of Beaverton
  • City of Gresham
  • City of Portland
  • Washington County Housing Authority
  • Housing Authority of Clackamas County
  •  Home Forward (Multnomah County’s
  • Housing Authority)
  • Metro

Lets Talk Rent Prices:

Each of the jurisdictions above have a quota of how many units need to be developed.  That does not mean that each of these entities will actually develop the housing themselves.  A mixture of for and non-profit developers will be key in ensuring the units go up.

On top of that, there will be a mixture of units.  I will grossly over-simplify but there will be units that are a little bit cheaper than market rate or 80% area median income.  That means a single person could not make more than around $45,000 if they want to live in that unit.  As an example, lets say a brand new 1 bedroom unit is built in the private market.  The rent there might be $2200 a month.   It will be cheaper for a 80%  unit.  It  might be around $1,200.  Yes that is not cheap but meets the needs of many in our communities.  Other units will be around 60% AMI.   That means for the same 1 bedroom unit, a single person could not make more than around $35,000 and the rent would be set around $900-$950.  There will also be 30% units.  In these instances the max rents to tenants would be extremely low.  In many instances, you would need to find an additional subsidy source to make this work.  We don’t want to get super complicated so we will skip project based vouchers for another day.   Here is some more info for my fellow geeks who want to get into the weeds.

Implement This:

The current step that is taking place is that each jurisdiction is working on their local implementation strategy.  These will be guiding documents that ensure all of the goals of the metro bond are met including the right number of units, the right size units and the a mixture of different rent levels as discussed above.  Another super important part of the implementation strategy is ensuring equity and inclusion in the planning process, building and allocation of units.

Every jurisdiction is currently doing a lot of outreach in their respective communities.  The local government administrations and elected officials are assisting to ensure that the needs of their area are being met.  The implementation plans will get run by local governments over the next couple of weeks and months.  After they are passed by local communities, the plans will go to the Metro Bond Governance Council.  Once passed, we should start seeing projects coming together.  Every project will still need to go in front of Metro but it is exciting to see this start to come together.


In future blogs, we will examine the following around the Metro Bond.

  • Challenges of Providing Units for Extremely Low-Income
  • Supported Services Needed For Housing Vulnerable Populations
  • Finding Land to Build On
  • Local Strategies From Each Jurisdictions

You can get more detail here from Metro

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