PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Mayor Charlie Hales does not think the city’s affordable housing is going to end for another three years, despite the fact that the City Council has authorized tens of millions of additional dollar for affordable housing projects over the past year and places a $258 million affordable housing bond measure on the November general election ballot.
Although the Multnomah County Commission has also committed an additional $10 million to affordable housing project, Hales is asking the council to extend the one-year Housing State of Emergency it declared last October for another three years.
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There is not enough support on the council to pass it, however. Staff members for commissioners Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman say their bosses do not support a three-year extension. Negotiations over a shorter extension are likely.
The current state of emergency expires on Oct. 7. Hales has submitted an ordinance to extend it to Oct. 7, 2019, for the council to consider next week. It says the number of homeless people in Portland appear to be increasing, in large part because of increasing housing costs.
“In the context of this crisis, we are seeing the expected indications that the rate of new people becoming homeless is on the rise. In just the past year, we saw a 42% increase in the number of people who used our emergency shelters, and the percentage of people who reported being homeless less than six months increased by 5% between the 2013 and 2015 point in time counts. There are also growing reports of entire rental housing complexes of low-income people receiving evictions and many of those households are becoming homeless,” reads in impact statement submitted with the ordinance.
Under the state of emergency, the council has suspended zoning and others restrictions to the quick creation of homeless shelters and other services. The council’s decision to relocate the Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp from Old Town to industrial land in Southeast Portland is being challenged before the state Land use Board of Appeals, however. That ruling, which is expected by the end of August, could limit the council’s powers during the emergency.