Demolishing Affordability, a Growing Concern

I fundamentally believe that we can have the kind of density and variety that delivers affordable housing without the kind of unfettered demolitions that undermine the results we’re trying to achieve.  Jim Lockhart’s program “A Growing Concern”  featured discussion recently about HB 2007, a new Oregon affordable housing bill that is currently in Ways and Means and then headed to the Senate for a vote. There are serious concerns about amendments to the bill that were championed by the same Home Builders Association that bragged in 2015 about “engineering testimony’ and “seizing the progressive agenda” to defeat the demolition tax in 2015.

Here’s a link to a very eloquent and clear summary of the House Bill and some of the contradictions it poses between the desperate need for affordable housing and the profit motive of unrestricted speculative development:

 As a lifelong renter, native Oregonian, and longtime Portland resident who loves this city and is heartbroken watching it get torn apart and rapidly become unaffordable, this is where I’m coming from. I know 50 minutes of video is an eternity in inernetz timez but if you wanna listen to three people talk passionately about a range of issues, I hope you do. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of affordable housing, historic preservation, development, and finding the balance, even if we disagree I want to hear your viewpoint.
Thank you for listening.

House Bill 2007 should be amended to apply only to providing, protecting, and preserving HUD standards of affordable housing, not creating broad opportunity for speculative development that let to this crisis of affordability in the first place. It should protect and preserve existing affordability and avoid displacement. This can be accomplished by meeting two broad goals:

  1. Prohibit the demolition of existing habitable housing units by enforcing a minimum standard of Soundness and providing exceptions only when the project meets strict review criteria.
  2. Limit the bill strictly to providing affordable housing that benefits those most in need – remove provisions which are not directly tied to regulated or defined standards of affordability.
 Much more information on the specifics of the House Bill Here.