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City in line to receive more than $26 million for affordable housing from Metro Regional Government

The city of Gresham must come up with a plan for implementing a portion of a Regional Affordable Housing Bond of more than $650 million, meant to be spent through the next five to seven years.

On Nov. 6, Metro regional government-area voters approved a $652.8 million general obligation bond measure to create permanently affordable housing across the region. As defined by the bond, "affordable housing" means land and improvements for residential units occupied by low-income families making 80 percent or less of median income.

The housing could be single-family, multi-family, apartments, or land banked for future facilities, among other projects. The goal of the bond is to create 3,900 permanently affordable homes. Metro has proposed that Multnomah County would construct 45 percent of the homes.

Gresham must come up with a local implementation strategy for the funds, which would describe how the goals will be achieved. Gresham City Council discussed ideas during a meeting Tuesday afternoon, March 12.

Metro estimates Gresham would receive up to $26.7 million, which would support two to four projects of new construction, or 166-187 units.

The city wants to use the grant to support a range of housing types and sizes that reflect the needs of citizens in different stages of life.

Other guidelines include avoiding concentrations of any one housing type, ensuring development enhances current neighborhoods, promote home ownership and endorse incentives for rehabilitating deteriorated but still good quality housing.

"I think the rehabilitation and preservation of housing is an important aspect of all this," said Councilor David Widmark.

Councilor Mario Palmero suggested forming partnerships with faith communities, media groups and nonprofit organizations.

"We need to focus on home ownership," Palmero said. "There has to be a goal for families. There are opportunities for us to work with different communities like the African-American community or Slavic community."

Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis agreed with the councilor.

"Anything we can do to guide the funds into home ownership," he said.

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