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Early returns show voters supporting the $653 million measure for affordable housing.

CONTRIBUTED - Artists rendering of the Willow Creek affordable housing apartments currently under construction in Washington County. If approved, the $652.8 million Metro affordable housing bond could fund similar projects in the region.Portland area voters on Tuesday seemed poised to tax themselves in order to build nearly 4,000 units of affordable housing.

Early election returns showed Metro's $652.8 million affordable-housing bond passing with nearly 60 percent of the vote in the tri-county region.

The measure would increase property tax bills by 24 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $60 a year for the average home with an assessed value of $250,000.

The Metro Council referred Measure 26-199 to the ballot after the regional governing body decided the affordable housing crisis requires a regional response.

"The voters have spoken, and they've clearly said they understand the need to create permanently affordable housing for people in our community," said Metro President Tom Hughes.

Early returns indicate Oregon voters also passed a proposed amendment to the Oregon Constitution that will allow private businesses to partner with the local governments that receive the funds on the affordable housing project.

Metro has estimated that the contitutional change will allow it to support the construction of up to 3,900 new affordable units.

Still up in the air is exactly where the projects will be located. Metro says the funds raised through the measure will be returned to the counties in proportion to their share of the assessed value within its service district, minus some administrative costs and property purchases for future transit-rated projects. Under that arrangement, Multnomah County would receive the largest share of the funds, 45.5 percent. Washington County would follow at 33.7 percent, and Clackamas County would receive 20.8 percent.

But where the projects will be located within each county is still being studied. The advocacy group Housing Oregon has identified 26 potential locations with enough capacity for 1,600 units in the region through its affiliated organizations. They include sites in all three counties, ranging from some where properties are still under negotiation to others whose state and local funding applications are complete but not yet approved.

Metro has also set 10 percent of the funds aside to purchase property along current and future transit lines for affordable housing projects. Although no locations have been announced, it is assumed some will be in the Southwest Corridor between Portland and Tualatin, where TriMet is planning to build its next MAX line.

And, up to 5 percent has been set aside for administration and contingencies, with Metro and the counties each set to receive as much as 2 percent for operations related to the bond program.

After the deductions, local governments in Washington County would receive $188 million for housing projects. Multnomah County governments are expected to receive around $254 million. Those in Clackamas County would receive $116 million.

Early Tuesday evening the regional bond measure was passing by a 2-1 margin in Multnomah County and holding on to slim majorities in Washington and Clackamas counties.

"It's time to get to work," said Metro CEO Martha Bennett. "We're ready to bring our partners back to the table and start creating affordable homes for people in our communities. I'm asking our staff to work quickly, efficiently and transparently to make a difference in our community by increasing the region's affordable housing inventory.

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