Letters of support needed for public hearing on SB 852 in Senate Committee on Housing and Development

A public hearing is scheduled on SB 852 – Home Mortgage Deduction Reform – this Thursday, April 1, at 1 PM. Please consider submitting written comments in support, which will be accepted through 1 PM Friday. This is our first hearing for this legislation in the Senate!  This is a rescheduled hearing. For those who received our e-newsletter last week with dead links, it was due to the previous hearing being rescheduled that evening.

As Oregonians across the state suffer from a housing crisis, the state’s largest housing subsidy — the mortgage interest deduction — does nothing to solve the problem. Rather than help those in need, it subsidizes the richest Oregonians. Trimming off part of the mortgage interest deduction would free up millions to be invested in strengthening homeownership and preventing homelessness, especially among children.

Thursday, April 1

Submit written testimony

Please consider submitting written testimony, which must be received within 24 hours of the meeting start time.

  • Submit electronically: CLICK HERE 
  • Address letter to: Senate Committee on Housing and Development, 900 Court Street NE, Room 453, Salem, OR 97301
  • Please direct comments to Chair Jama, Vice-Chair Linthicum, and members of the Senate Committee on Housing and Development

What is SB 852

  • SB 852 is the same as HB 2578, which received a hearing in the House Committee on Housing on March 11.
  • Disallows, for purposes of personal income taxation, mortgage interest deduction for residence other than taxpayer’s principal residence,unless taxpayer sells residence or actively markets residence for sale.
  • Phases out allowable deduction for interest for principal residence based upon income. Disallows deduction for principal residence above threshold income amount.
  • Establishes Oregon Housing Opportunity Account. Transfers amount equal to estimated increase in revenue attributable to restrictions on deduction of mortgage interest to account.
  • The mortgage interest deduction costs Oregon more than $1 billion per budget period, making it the state’s biggest housing subsidy.
  • Phases out the deduction for Oregon’s richest 5% — those who can most easily afford housing. It retains the deduction for 95% of homeowners.

Talking points

Oregon’s housing crisis demands action

  • Rapidly rising home prices keep the dream of homeownership out of reach for too many Oregon families.
  • Many homeowners struggle to hang on to their homes or make essential repairs.
  • Homelessness among school-aged children has been at record levels recently. Homelessness not only inflicts serious suffering for children, it also undermines their long-term health and educational outcomes.
  • The COVID and wildfire crises have further exposed the need for additional resources to meet housing and human service needs.

Oregon’s biggest housing subsidy largely benefits those who don’t need help

  • Our current MID is one of our state and country’s primary structural reasons why the wealth disparity gets worse every year. Most of the benefit goes to higher end, mainly White, housing-secure homeowners, as opposed to helping lower income Oregonians buy and maintain their first home.
  • The deduction is structured to benefit the most well-off homeowners: 60% of the subsidy goes to the richest fifth of Oregonians. Most low- and middle-income homeowners do not benefit from the deduction.
  • Renters, by definition, get nothing from this subsidy.
  • Following a year of racial reckoning led by the Black Lives Matter movement, many more White Americans have awakened to racial disparities, not only in policing, but also in wealth disparities in our country.
  • The deduction exacerbates racial wealth disparities built up over generations, as well as the urban-rural divide, as a disproportionate share of the subsidy flows to urban areas.

A modest reform frees up hundreds of millions to confront the housing crisis

  • Two common sense changes would be to phase out the deduction starting at an income of over $200k and end it entirely at $250k and — at a time when some Oregonians do not have a roof over their heads — eliminate the deduction for owners of vacation homes.
  • These modest, reasonable reforms would free up more than a hundred million each budget period to invest in confronting the statewide housing crisis.
  • Such resources could build starter homes, keep struggling homeowners in their own homes, help struggling renters avoid eviction, and house children currently without a home.

Join us in creating the change Oregon’s families need: By investing our housing subsidy dollars where they are needed most, we can help ensure every Oregonian has a place to call home. Please encourage your lawmakers to support SB 852.

Questions? Need info?

Brian Hoop, Housing Oregon, 503-475-6056, brian@housingoregon.org