The 2020 Housing Alliance Legislative agenda for the short session beginning in February took a step forward at the December 16 membership meeting with several proposals winning approval.  Additional proposals will be considered at the next membership meeting later in January. Save the date for the Housing Alliance lobby day on Thursday, February 20. For more information or questions contact Alison McIntosh at

The following proposals were approved:

Housing Alliance priorities approved:

Increase the cap for the Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit: The Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit (OAHTC) is a proven and effective tool to develop and maintain more affordable housing. The OAHTC has helped to develop over 16,800 units in 34 counties across Oregon. The Legislature should increase the cap from $25 million to $35 million per year.

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. $10 million in lottery bonds are needed to help to maintain all regulated, multifamily affordable housing, as well as public housing and manufactured home parks.

Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative: The Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative is a matched savings program which helps people with low incomes build assets such as a home, a small business, or an education. Because of changes in federal tax law and IRS code, the Initiative is facing significant funding cuts for 2020 and 2021. At least $4.5 million in one-time only resources is needed to keep the Initiative whole through the 2019-21 biennium.

Endorsements approved:

Debt based suspension of drivers licensesSuspending driver licenses for inability to pay fines keeps people from being able to pay their debts and can trap people in a cycle of poverty. The Legislature should end the practice of suspending drivers’ licenses for the inability to pay the fines and fees.

Fair Housing Enforcement: In 2015, the Bureau of Labor and Industries asked the Legislature to change one word to allow, rather than require, BOLI to enforce federal fair housing law. This change has had negative impacts on Oregonians. The Legislature should change the law back to allow BOLI to enforce federal fair housing law and receive financial support from HUD.

Increase Support for the Independent Living Program: Young people in the foster care system deserve the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to transition into adulthood. Oregon’s Independent Living Program (ILP) is designed to help youth transitioning out of foster care to gain these skills while establishing supportive relationships. The Legislature should invest $2 million to stabilize ILP providers, including support to transition into their own housing.

Renter Education Guarantee Fund: Technical Change: Today, people who rent their homes who receive support through a renter education program are eligible for a landlord guarantee, where the landlord can receive financial assistance if there is debt or damage to the unit beyond the security deposit. However, the landlord is limited to lifetime assistance of $5000. The Legislature should change the limit to $5000 per tenant, rather than a lifetime limit.

Healthy Homes: For seniors, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes who own their homes, small investments can make a big difference to maintain their stability and improve health outcomes. The Legislature should commit $4 million to create a Healthy Homes Pilot Initiative to rapidly address these critical home repair and health and safety needs.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Pilot Program: Small Homes Northwest is a scalable and replicable demonstration project that will build ADUs to support financial stability for modest income homeowners and create an affordable rental home, while preventing displacement.  A one-time allocation of $1 million will support the “proof of concept” by building 15 new small homes, ten in metro Portland and five outside the metro area.

Home Ownership Limited Tax Exemption – technical fix: The Home Ownership Limited Tax Exemption (HOLTE) is a property tax exemption authorized by the Legislature that allows a property tax exemption for newly constructed, owner-occupied single unit housing for purchase, and limits the income and sales price of the home. This technical fix would amend statute to allow a city to grant an extension for approvals by up to 24 months, if the applicant can document progress.


Remaining Proposals

Additional proposals are still being considered and evaluated by Housing Alliance workgroups and will be discussed and potentially voted on at the next membership meeting in January. These proposals address long term rental assistance, property tax exemption changes to align with new criteria for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC), 211 Info service expansion, expanding resources for youth homelessness programs, resources to renovate a newly purchased building for the Multnomah County Behavioral Health Resource Center, and construction defects in condo buildings.

Feedback needed on options for Property Tax Exemption Changes

Of interest to Housing Oregon members is a proposal addressing property tax exemptions. I’ll send out context and options to policy council members. Your feedback on which option to advocate for would be appreciated. Please contact Brian Hoop, Director, Housing Oregon at or 503-475-6056.