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City must comply with state mandates to diversify housing stock with more duplexes, townhouses

COURTESY PHOTO: EAAUMI, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS - Campbell Townhouses in Northwest Portland are an example of middle housing that a new Oregon House Bill is promoting. More housing variety is coming to Gresham as the city attempts to adapt code and master plans to meet statewide requirements.

The Middle Housing Project accounts for the changes prompted by House Bill 2001, which attempts to address Oregon's housing crisis by increasing the amount and types of residences available. The effect in Gresham is changes to the development code to allow for more middle housing, including duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, townhouse and cottage clusters across city neighborhoods.

"There are a lot of details to this and a lot of positives to ensure we can overall have affordable housing and allow home-ownership attainment," said Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall.

HB 2001 also requires a pair of code changes in Gresham — duplexes are allowed on any lot that accommodates detached single dwellings, and all middle housing types in any area zoned to allow detached single dwellings.

The goal is to strike a balance between housing availability and density. While middle housing allows for more residents in a smaller space, it avoids the crush associated with apartment complexes.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows a need for 6,229 new households in Gresham to account for the expected growth through 2041. Furthermore, the city needs more affordable options, as 64% of renters in Gresham are cost-burdened, which means they spend at least 30% of their income on rent.

During a meeting Tuesday, March 16, Gresham City Council noted the importance of housing variety. There were concerns about where the new construction will be situated. Many of the middle housing seems destined for east and south Gresham, where there is little infrastructure in the way of sidewalks and connector roads.

The city can also dictate the development to protect environmentally sensitive areas.

Gresham must fully comply with HB 2001 by June 2022.


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