My View: HB2007 will reduce barriers to housing
Everyone knows Oregonians deserve to have a safe, affordable home, but the state is desperately lacking enough housing that we, our children and our parents can afford. Finding solutions that provide more housing options requires a collaborative effort from all of us. 1000 Friends shares Oregon's values to meet this need while protecting and enhancing our local economy, environment and community.
Without this collaborative effort, people will continue to be displaced and isolated.
Housing costs are rising because there are not enough homes to go around. Oregonians are spending more than ever on housing. We need to make sure we are keeping the door open for people to live, work and play in our neighborhoods. We can't throw up a wall around the state, and we can't abide by people being pushed out of their communities.
We have heard that the solution is to push new housing out farther, and expand the urban growth boundary. This is not the silver bullet solution that people think it is.
n Relegating people to the edge limits their access to economic opportunities, education, services, health care and the connectivity of transit, walking and biking. It's not fair to those people forced to the edge when we can meet their daily needs closer in.
n It's a false narrative to assume that affordable housing can happen if only we expand outward. It's also often prohibitively expensive to add infrastructure at the edge, limiting what gets built.
n The further out we build, the more environmental destruction we create. Oregonians don't want sprawl because we value the conservation and responsible use of our lands, and we don't want increased car congestion that add emissions and decrease safety in our neighborhoods.
Instead of expanding, we have the opportunity to reduce barriers to meet our goals and values by adding more housing that discreetly fits into our existing neighborhoods. House Bill 2007 was introduced by Speaker Rep. Tina Kotek with the goal of promoting abundant, diverse and affordable housing options in Oregon neighborhoods.
This bill will help reduce barriers to communities in providing housing that is needed and wanted. It will fast-track affordable housing permits, clarify standards for approving housing proposals, allow accessory dwelling units and duplexes in single-family neighborhoods, and it introduces higher levels of transparency in the historic district designation process. Communities can still access national or local historic designations, and design review to protect local character. HB 2007 also keeps us from sprawling outward.
Let's be very clear, 1000 Friends values the character and uniqueness of our neighborhoods and communities. We can support housing, while maintaining community character with discreet "missing middle" housing, which accommodates a large and growing portion of the market. Currently, two-thirds of Oregon households are one to two people. We need to redefine what single-family means.
How can my neighborhood make space for new homes? By supporting mixed-income communities around our state. This allows anyone to retire, downsize and age in place. It allows for first-time home buyers to invest in your neighborhood. For many of our existing neighborhood residents, any change in income or family dynamic could force a hard decision to leave their community. This means, they could transition within their established community and it helps us rein in housing costs. This is a community-based solution where we all take a little responsibility to address our housing needs.
1000 Friends of Oregon supports HB 2007, and we ask you to join us. We can help address the housing needs of all Oregon families, if we can embrace these solutions.
Russ Hoeflich is the incoming executive director for 1000 Friends of Oregon, and previously served with The Nature Conservancy for 35 years.