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More meetings set on framework for Spending of bond funds, proposed missing middle City Code changes delayed

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - More row houses like these could be built under the new 'missing middle' housing policy whose final vote has been delayed.As rents continue to rise in Portland, deadlines to finalize two initiatives to increase the supply of affordable housing have been pushed back with little public notice.

After falling in February, rents in Portland have increased for the past five months and are now more expensive than most large cities in the country, according to the most recent report from the Apartment List rental company. Portland's median two-bedroom rent of $1,370 also is above the national average of $1,160, the report says.

Despite that, two more meetings of the Portland Affordable Housing Bond Stakeholder Advisory Group recently were announced on its city website. Although the committee originally was scheduled to complete its work July 31, it now will meet again on Aug. 8 and 14.

The committee is charged with drafting a framework for spending the $258.4 million in bond funds approved by Portland voters at the November 2016 election. It currently is considering specific production, location and community goals for bond-funded projects. The council is expected to take up the proposed framework this fall.

Although Mayor Ted Wheeler previously had said the council would begin spending the money in July, the schedule already had been pushed back to the fall when the group was first appointed in March.

In addition, the schedule for the Residential Infill Project to present its proposed City Code amendments to the council has been delayed from the end of this year until late 2018. The new schedule recently was posted on the project's website.

The project was created by former Mayor Charlie Hales and is charged with proposing how smaller homes, such as duplexes and garden apartments, can be added to existing single-family neighborhoods.

The council added the so-called missing-middle concept to the Comprehensive Plan update it approved late last year. The update is intended to guide growth in the city through 2035. At the time, the council assumed that such smaller homes would be more affordable than the large houses that now are allowed to replace older homes in such neighborhoods.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which is staffing the project, currently is drafting the amendments to the City Code to enact the concept. The council originally was expected to begin considering them this fall. But the staff now says the proposed amendments will not even be released for public review and comment until late September.

The outreach process is expected to take a year. After that, they must be considered by the Planning and Sustainability Commission, which oversees the bureau, before being forwarded to the council. Both sets of hearings now are not expected to begin until winter 2018.

You can read the Apartment List report at www.apartmentlist.com/or/portland#rent-report.

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