While not all of the Housing Oregon and Housing Alliance priorities passed, considering it was only a 30-day short session, the Oregon Legislature passed significant wins for affordable housing.

In January, Governor Brown and the Legislature, primarily House Representatives Fahey, Marsh, and Campos, and Senator Jama, proposed a budget package that contained $400 million to address homelessness, new construction and preservation of affordable rental housing, and access to affordable homeownership.

Housing Oregon supported both the Governor’s $400 million package, plus a proposal from Community Alliance of Tenants that would have dedicated $100 million to homelessness prevention. Portions of those priorities, also supported by the Housing Alliance, are reflected in the final package passed by the Legislature in HB 5202.

You can find more information in the Legislature’s budget table or full budget report. Thanks to the leadership of the Housing Alliance for coordinating advocacy efforts and to Alison McIntosh for providing summary details on this year’s session.

Homelessness Funding – $165 million

  • $50 million: Project Turnkey 2.0, funds the acquisition of hotels and other buildings to convert into sources of housing shelter. The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) will administer these funds.
  • $80 million: Address immediate homelessness needs statewide, including shelter infrastructure and operations, rapid rehousing, resource referrals, and housing stability.
    • $30 million will go to support homelessness prevention efforts.
    • $50 million will go to support homelessness services.
  • $25 million: Grants to local governments to provide shelter capacity, hygiene needs, and outreach to people experiencing homelessness. This includes: $10 million to Multnomah County; $750,000 to Washington County; $2 million to Clackamas County; $1 million to Hillsboro; $750,000 to Beaverton; $5 million to Eugene; $2.5 million to Salem; and $1.5 million to Medford.
  • $8 million: (HB 4123) Establishes a statewide coordinated homeless response system to each jurisdiction allocating $1 million each to the following counties: Benton, Coos, Deschutes, Lincoln, Polk, Tillamook, Umatilla and $1 million to the Mid-Columbia Community Action Council.
    • According to the National Council on Homelessness (2020), Oregon’s rate of homeless individuals is one of the highest in the nation, with an estimated 15,876 individuals who are homeless on any given night. According to Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), the number of unsheltered homeless individuals has increased by 37 percent since 2015.
    • The OHCS 2019 Statewide Shelter Study calculated a shortfall of 5,800 emergency shelter beds for individuals and families. The health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as individuals and families displaced by the 2020 wildfires, has amplified the need for safe shelter, housing, and supportive services to meet the needs of a growing homeless population.
  • $1.2 million: (HB 4013) Provides housing, utilities, tuition, and services for homeless youth. Directs the Department of Education to establish pilot program in which certain school districts make one-time distributions to families of students to assist with unpaid rent, past-due utilities, or move-in expenses.
  • $500,000: Support data-driven policymaking in local governments and improve governmental coordination. This money creates a policy position within the OHCS to coordinate, analyze, and prioritize homelessness responses between state agencies and local partners, and to support an Interagency Council on Homelessness. $250,000 will support Built for Zero, a collaborative service to help communities establish and implement action plans to reduce and eliminate homelessness.
  • Separately, the Legislature also committing $13 million for trash and sanitation services for folks experiencing homelessness. These funds are to be used for voluntary trash collection and mitigation, but not with camp site removal or sweeps. $10 million will go to Metro, and the remaining $3 million will go to Eugene, Salem, Bend, Medford, Springfield, Corvallis, and Albany.

New Construction and Preservation of Affordable Housing — $215 million

  • $65 million for Preservation – keep affordable housing affordable for families in supported units, preventing displacement.
  • $55 million: Invest in building new affordable homes to rent and buy including:
    • $35 million for the Small Projects NOFA, which builds smaller scale affordable rental housing, particularly in rural areas; and
    • $20 million for LIFT for homeownership to fill gaps and make the program work better.
  • $50 million: Support affordable housing construction projects struggling with market and supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic.
  • $35 million for manufactured housing, which includes:
    • $20 million to acquire manufactured housing parks to keep them affordable; and
    • $15 million to St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County to seed investment to produce new affordable manufactured homes for low-income buyers and rental housing. Currently, there are significant delays to purchase new manufactured homes.
  • $10 million to support land acquisition for affordable housing projects.

Homeownership — $20 million

  • $15 million: Increase capacity for homeownership centers and other nonprofits that help families navigate homeownership, mortgages, and the homebuying process. These funds will support capacity, technology and software needs, pandemic related needs, and expenses.  The funds can also be used to support manufactured homeowner counseling, capacity for non-profits serving homeowners with low incomes, or to expand outreach and mediation associated with manufactured housing through Community Dispute Resolution Centers.
  • $5 million: Launch a home loan program managed by Hacienda CDC to help first-time homebuyers across the state to make down payments. This seed money will establish a revolving loan fund to serve first time home buyers, particularly BIPOC homeowners.

Bills Housing Oregon supported in 2021 that were updated in 2022

The Housing Omnibus Bill (HB 4051) updated three important bills originally passed in 2021:

  • In 2021, the Legislature created the Task Force on Homelessness and Racial Disparities. HB 4051 extends the Task Force through 2025 and requires two additional reports.
  • In 2021, the Legislature passed HB 2006 which created temporary flexibility for local governments to allow the siting of shelters for people experiencing homelessness. HB 4051 extends this for one year to July 1, 2023. While this was not on Housing Oregon/Coalition list of endorsements, this is an important policy extension.
  • Also in 2021, the Legislature passed SB 8 which reduced barriers to siting affordable housing. HB 4051 fixes a small error to allow the full impact of SB 8 to be realized.

Additional bills that passed which Housing Oregon supported

Right to Cooling (SB 1536): This bill provides resources for cooling including air conditioners and ductless heat pumps for people with low incomes. It also requires that landlords allow tenants to install either window or portable air conditioners or provide cooled spaces for tenants, with certain regulations. Housing Oregon was actively engaged with Verde, the lead organization, advocating to secure language beneficial to affordable housing developers.

Equity Investment Act (SB 1579): The Equity Investment Act creates a $15 million program within Business Oregon to develop and award grants to organizations that provide culturally responsive services to support economic stability, self-sufficiency, wealth building, and economic equity among individuals and families of color, businesses owned by, and communities of color.

Manufactured Home Park Omnibus Technical Changes (HB 4064): This bill makes a range of technical changes to manufactured home park laws to protect people impacted by the wildfires of 2020, and makes it easier to build new manufactured home parks or place manufactured homes on privately owned land.

Additional bills of interest to housing advocates that passed

HB 5202, the primary budget bill, included several additional items of interest to affordable housing advocates:

  • A $10 million investment in the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services fund (ODSVS) will support emergency shelter and safety services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. The state’s network of confidential, community-based, culturally specific, and Tribal Nation domestic and sexual violence service providers are struggling to meet increased need.
  • $100 million was included for behavioral health housing. This investment will support people experiencing mental health issues through new residential treatment beds, short- or long-term rent assistance, and more. In addition, HB 4004 will increase wages for the workers at mental health providers.
  • Funding for 211 Info (Budget Request): This proposal would provide 211 Info with $1 million to operate services 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the remainder of the biennium.

SB 1518 was passed which creates a Task Force on Resilient and Efficient Buildings, which includes seats on the Task Force for people who develop affordable housing and represent affordable housing interests. Ernesto Fonseca, Executive Director at Hacienda CDC, was appointed to serve on the task force.

Oregonians who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2020 will receive $600 in emergency relief payments from the State through HB 4157. Oregonians with ITIN numbers who would have been eligible for the EITC in 2020 will also receive the benefit.

Bills that Housing Oregon supported – But did not move forward

Preservation Capital Gains Tax Credit (HB 4043): HB 4043 would have created a tax credit to incentivize the sale of affordable housing to a preservation minded buyer, in order to maintain the housing as affordable.

Preservation Tenant Based Assistance (SB 1557): This proposal would have created a pilot program to put in place a small rental subsidy to provide assistance to tenants to offset the cost of rent increases. This assistance would only be available to existing tenants while they remain in the unit and would fund assistance for two properties – one in Washington County, and one in Marion County.

Screening Fees (HB 4125): HB 4125 would create more transparency and strengthen penalties for timely tenant screening fee return.

Rent assistance for affordable housing providers: Affordable housing providers operate with an extremely limited ability to cover rent losses, and have a mission to help people remain housed. Housing Oregon supported a proposal for $15 million to cover remaining rent debt accrued by affordable housing providers across the state due to the economic challenges residents faced during the COVID pandemic. Housing Oregon is working with the Housing Alliance to explore other ways to address this issue.