Beaverton renews housing plan
Beaverton city officials say they remain committed toward more housing that is affordable for all individuals and families.
But the latest version of the city's five-year action plan, which the city council approved Tuesday night (Jan. 2), hinges on additional money in the next city budget up for approval in the spring.
Development Division Manager Cadence Petros, who presented the report, called it "essentially a status quo update."
The council is continuing a series of housing talks — the next one is scheduled Jan. 23 — that will conclude in the spring.
"The mayor and city council are currently considering options for expanding housing activities to create a more robust housing program," the report says.
"This action plan … does not include the additional funding such a program would entail."
The city did boost its spending from $1.2 million in 2015-16 to $5.4 million in the budget year that ended in mid-2017. The latter counts a $3 million write-down for land for Rise Central, a mixed-use development with a total of 230 units plus office space underway at the site of the former Westgate theater.
Budgeted spending in the current year is $1.1 million, including a severe weather shelter now in its second year. The first year the shelter was available for three months, and was open 21 nights; this year, availability is five months.
Planning is continuing for an all-year family shelter that would house up to 14 people.
Beaverton's plan dovetails with Washington County's plan to reduce homelessness, although the county spends relatively little on emergency shelters.
"We can all agree no one should be living on our streets and we need to do all we can to get people on a path to housing stability," Mayor Denny Doyle said in the report.
The city plan calls for 6,600 new homes by 2035 deemed "affordable" — under federal guidelines, costing no more than 30 percent of gross household income — of more than 12,000 projected for need. According to the report, Beaverton had a total of 41,763 in 2016.
Of the 230 planned in Rise Central, 215 will be at market rate and 15 are deemed "affordable."
Petros said financing has been arranged for preservation of 59 apartments in Fircrest Manor, and newly opened Bridge Meadows offers 32 apartments for older people and nine for families with foster children.
She also said city staff meet regularly to review housing issues.
"With that coordinated effort we had a few successes," she said.
The city also is scheduled this summer to complete a study, funded in December 2016 by a $100,000 grant from Metro, to compile an inventory of "affordable" but unregulated rentals and the best ways of preserving them.
"We must make sure that market pressures do not create so much of an incentive to make that (housing) less affordable as time goes on," Petros said.
At the close of the meeting, Councilor Betty Bode appeared in a video to talk about housing and other issues. Bode has already announced she will leave office this year when her fourth term ends.
She called for the "creative" use of public spaces to offer people shelter.
"They have no place to go, yet they still call Beaverton home. It's the same place I call home," she said.
"I have never believed … this is the time to hide the poor. This is not the time to hide the sick. This is the time to stand up and be creative and say yes, we can.
"Give them a roof, not a cold truck or a cold car."