Oregon Lawmakers Set The Stage For More Affordable Housing

Dated: February 29 2016

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Oregon lawmakers took a first step toward more affordable housing on Friday, giving the green light for cities to require that a portion of the units in new developments be made more affordable for renters and buyers.

The Oregon Senate voted 20-8 on Friday in favor of Senate Bill 1533, which lifts a long-term ban on inclusionary zoning. Such zoning allows cities and other jurisdictions to require new housing developments to include a certain amount of affordable units.

If the bill becomes law, it would also let cities collect construction excise taxes to fund affordable housing initiatives.

A press release from the Senate Majority Office described the bill as "the product of bipartisan discussions with affordable housing advocates, local governments and the home-building, real estate and property management industries.

“We are seeing a growing need for mixed-income developments in our cities, given the growing problem of middle-income workers and their families being priced out of the communities in which they work,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Portland Democrat, in the release.

“Whether we’re talking about new teachers or police officers, social workers or office workers, it’s vital that they be able to live in the communities in which they work. When workers have to commute long distances to get to work, that hurts their productivity; it’s bad for their families and bad for the environment. When they are able to work in the communities that they serve, it’s good for those communities.”

The legislation would not require inclusionary zoning, but instead lets individual cities and communities adopt their own zoning policies. According to the release, in cases where communities choose to implement inclusionary zoning, policies can only apply to new multifamily structures containing at least 20 housing units, and can require that up to 20 percent of housing units be sold or rented as affordable housing.

Such policies would also have to offer incentives to developers to offset some of their costs.

The legislation, which now passes onto the House of Representatives, would also allow cities and counties to impose new construction excise taxes that could be used to fund developer incentives, down payment assistance programs and other local affordable housing resources.

The Oregon Senate on Friday passed a bill that would let cities enact inclusionary zoning policies to require more affordable housing.


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Mark Ross

For Mark Ross, founder of Ross NW Real Estate and professional real estate broker, real estate has always been the career of choice. During his 25+ years in the industry, Mark has gained experience in....

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