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Published in the City Club of Portland Bulletin, Vol. 101, No. 1, Aug. 21, 2018.

Executive Summary

After fact-finding through testimony, research, data analysis and consideration, the committee unanimously voted to support the Metro bond ballot measure. The committee agrees that an unmet need for affordable housing exists across the region and further agrees the bond measure, if passed, will supply affordable housing for low-income populations.

The regional housing market’s performance over time demonstrates that demand for housing by people at the lowest income levels has not been met by adequate provision of housing by market forces. This weakness in the market signals a clear role for governmental action. A regional approach to the lack of affordable housing, undertaken in alignment with other strategies implemented by county and municipal entities within the Metro service area, is a sound public investment. No single entity is dealing with the housing crisis alone and the bond measure is designed to be flexible to meet local needs. The bond measure will allow for better public financing at lower interest rates than would otherwise occur. This will allow all housing funding mechanisms to be stretched and applied to their most effective capacity.

The committee recognizes that communities of color are disproportionately represented in low-income populations and have historically been negatively impacted by gentrification and discriminatory housing policies. We believe the bond measure, as proposed, would begin to address this historical structural inequity.

Additionally, public financial resources raised by the bond to generate increased affordable housing will have a secondary impact in accelerating economic growth in the region. Housing at multiple income levels is critical for a vibrant and diverse economy. If the bond passes, it will increase additional resources for affordable housing; however, the affordable housing gap will still exceed the need. Continued community engagement to develop ongoing strategies, including examination of the role of the urban growth boundaries' impact on housing affordability, is necessary to develop sustainable solutions to the affordable housing need in the Metro region.

Recommendation: The committee recommends a “Yes” vote. City

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